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Cancun Ministerial Conference: An Impasse


Code : ITF0028

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Industry :General Business

Region : :Null

Teaching Note: Available

Structured Assignment : Available

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Introduction: In the global trade talks at the FourthWTOMinisterial Conference held inDoha, Qatar, in November 2001, theworld’s tradeministers promised to conclude the talks by the end of 2004, bringing into force an ambitious agreement on liberalizing trade in farmgoods and services, with the aimto help the poor countries. In theDoha round, an agenda was formedwhich aimed at reducing trade barriers especially in the agricultural and service sectors, and framing new rules for globalization in areas of investment and competition policy.Developed countries promised to open up the farmgoods and textilemarkets. A promise to help the poor countries with cash, technical assistance and ‘special and differential’ treatment for agreements wasmade. The issues were scheduled for negotiations in the nextMinisterial Conference to be held in Cancun. TheFifthWorldTradeOrganization (WTO)5 Ministerial Conference6 in Cancun, Mexico was held from September 10th to September 14th 2003. The objective of the meeting was to review the progress of the Doha Development Agenda [Annexure 1] formulated in November 2001. The Cancun conference was supposed to bring in ‘a broad negotiating framework’ for the international trade negotiations that were to be completed in the beginning of January 2005. The conference was attended by 146members representing various nations of the world. The conference started withmuch hope and anticipation to reduce trade barriers and strengthen the international trading system. According to an analysis of theWorld Bank, a successful reduction of the trade barrierswould result in increasing the global income by $2.8 trillion and reduce the level of poverty by 320million by 2015.7 But to the disappointment of different sections of the world, the Cancun MinisterialConference endedwith themembers failing to reach agreements on any issue.While analysts detailed that there were several factors for failure of the conference, both developed countries and developing countries blamed each other for the failure, and some countries blamedWTO.

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