For the third successive summer in a row, the annual meeting of WTO members in Geneva has ended in collapse. Hopes of capitalising on the all too familiar window of opportunity to secure a Doha Round deal were dashed when a disagreement over safeguards proved insurmountable. After the inevitable finger pointing and disappointment, editorial columns are filling with hypotheses on where global trade can go from here. In our lead article, Simon Evenett argues that the time has come to reflect and reformulate Doha thinking.
On a very tangible note, the reoccurring question of bananas was at the forefront of the nine day ‘mini-ministerial' talks in Geneva. In keeping with tradition, Latin America was pitted against the ACP for coveted access to the EU market. For the first time, it appeared peace had been made in the so-called "banana wars," but a brief deal fell apart as the wider talks collapsed. In this month's TNI, Alistair Smith and Gordon Myers look at what was put on the table in July and help to set the scene for new attempts to find compromise in September and October.
As trade experts return after the traditional summer holidays, attention will also turn towards finalising the Economic Partnership Agreements. While negotiators continue to fine-tune the existing texts, heated debate continues over whether or not countries will sign what has been agreed. Europe is pressing hard for immediate signature to render the EPAs WTO - compatible, but as yet, no ACP country has endorsed the deals. Even the Caribbean, which was proudly the first ACP region to initial a comprehensive EPA, has seen the date for signature slip from one month the next.
Leading experts from several international institutes are currently in the process of preparing studies on the EPAs. Over the course of the next few months, TNI will publish a series of short articles based on their findings. The studies were commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that we welcome contributions from all those who wish to share their views and academic findings with a wider audience.
Each study is based on the comprehensive CARIFORUM EPA, in a bid to draw recommendations for the ongoing negotiations - particularly in Africa. Eckhard Volkmann and Silke Trumm open the series with an overview of the key objectives and findings of the studies. Kamala Dawar then takes over the baton with an article assessing public procurement, while Birgit Hofmann looks at the key question of Aid for Trade.
ICTSD has recently given its website a complete facelift, creating a far more user-friendly interface. You should now be able to search for articles with ease, linking through to the issues which are of most relevance to you. The website is also far more interactive, allowing comments, feedback and questions to be posted for individual articles. The TNI team would like to encourage our readers to make use of this new space to help us provide you with the most relevant news and analysis we can.
We hope you enjoy the September issue of TNI!