ABSTRACT

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha round of trade negotiations was launched in the shadow of the horrific events of 11 September 2001 to demonstrate global solidarity and to highlight global cooperation in meeting global challenges. To enhance its appeal among a large number of developing countries that remained sceptical about the need for such an enterprise, it was billed a Development round, a round which would address the imbalances of the past and give due importance to the special needs of developing countries. The Ministerial Declaration adopted at Doha on 14 November 2001 is replete with references to the role of international trade in promoting development and alleviating poverty. It makes a special reference to the vulnerabilities of the least developed countries (LDCs) and commits itself to addressing their marginalization in international trade and to improving their effective participation in the multilateral trading system. More than 10 years down the line, these intentions are nowhere near

being realized, as WTO members seek to come to terms with the dramatic changes in the global economy. The impasse in the Doha round has many facets-at one level, it is the result of a dispute between the United States and the emerging economies about their respective contributions to the final outcome. At another level, it represents the deep structural changes taking place in the global economy that have altered the political economy of the negotiations in the WTO. At yet another level, it reflects the deep crisis in multilateralism brought about by the changes in the global economy. But a preoccupation with the macro aspects of this unfortunate stalemate tends to conceal the identity of its real victims-the poorest and small economies in the world. The focus of this chapter is on the implications of these developments on such developing countries, especially those in Africa, as well as the role the multilateral process in general and the WTO in particular can play in assisting these countries in addressing their challenges.