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Free Trade
WTO Poised for Biggest Success in Years

The 159 countries in the World Trade Organization are finally ready to ink a major free trade agreement after a week of heated debates between the U.S. and India that nearly derailed the process. The agreement, nicknamed “Doha Lite” by some, is far less sweeping than the original Doha plans, but it’s difficult to overstate its importance as one of the biggest victories in the body’s history. The FT reports:

The Bali deal would mark the first time any components of the long-stalled Doha Round have been completed. As such it would represent a rare win and a badly-needed credibility boost for the multilateral trading system and the WTO. Since its creation in 1995 the Geneva-based body has failed to produce any new agreements, leaving the rules governing global trade badly outdated. [..]

“It looks as if tonight we have saved the WTO,” said Karel DeGucht, the European Union’s trade commissioner. “That would be a historic event.”

The Obama administration can take justifiable pride in getting this negotiation to the finish line. Yet there are many factors working in his favor. Over time, the public has gained confidence in free trade—there is more awareness now that free trade makes imports cheaper and gives Americans more choices and better ones when we go to the mall.

Free trade is not a panacea for the world’s ills, and the Doha process was flawed in many ways, but hundreds of millions of poor people world wide will have better lives because of the progress we are making toward making free trade a global phenomenon.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The American Global Trading System which the WTO now represents, is the single most important reason for the advancement of mankind, and the raising of billions of people out of abject poverty. A simple review of those countries which engage in the most world trade, shows that the more you trade the faster you advance. Had the US not worked as hard as it has to get nations to buy into world trade, most of the human race, would still be living in squalor.

    • Andrew Allison

      Come now! I’m all in favor of global trade, but not only does most of the world’s population still live in poverty, but the USA was not the world’s first global trading nation. Furthermore, while the US probably engages in more world trade than any other country, it has not advanced noticeably in recent years.

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