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"Rising" Powers Take Hit as Rich Countries Drop Doha

The failure of the Doha trade talks is now so stinking obvious that even professional bureaucrats and negotiators are forced to acknowledge it.  The FT has a story this morning about the growing possibility that a small number of major countries will move on to develop a free trade in services regime outside the Doha framework.

It is much too soon for Via Meadia to have a view on the merits of any new agreement, but that isn’t the real story here at this point.  The real story is that in economics at least the much vaunted rise of the new “emerging” powers looks increasingly bogus.

The G-20 is a vain talking shop; the WTO, where countries like Brazil and India have taken the lead, is turning into one.  The major economic powers are still willing and able to find workarounds to manage the world’s key affairs in the old way.  The US, the EU and Japan still count for so much in the world of trade that the three of them can essentially determine the shape of the world trading system by decisions they jointly take.  If these three agree on new regulations for trade in services, other countries will have to accept it or lose the privileges the agreement grants.

Often, “emerging” is diplospeak for “not” or “not yet.”  An “emerging” democracy is not a democracy, for example.  And an “emerging” power is not a great power — not yet and, quite possibly, not ever.  An “emerging” agreement is an agreement that does not yet exist.

The Doha story in a nutshell: the emerging powers are left nursing an emerging negotiation while the actual trade powers are negotiating in quiet among themselves.

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  • Kansas Scott

    I’m not trying to be picky but do you use “rising” and “emerging” interchangeably? I know language is very important to diplomats so I am just curious.

    You have “rising” in the headline but you use “emerging” in the body. Your comments on the possible China base in the Seychelles have “India’s rising power…”

    Inquiring (or little) minds want to know.

  • Luke Lea

    Off topic, I suppose, but if the Chinese economy implodes it would be nice if all those off-shoring global investors who jumped into the new world trading system so enthusiastically lose everything.

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