Brazil played a central role in all of this. As a result, many developing countries believe Azevedo will be an ally at the WTO.

And they may be right, though not in quite the way they expect. Rather than convincing wealthy nations to rethink their own Doha strategies, the main challenge for Azevedo will be to persuade developing countries to reconsider past approaches.

Success is essential. As Azevedo noted at a news conference last week, the WTO “is clearly stuck.” He must now get it unstuck–and it may take a figure with his special credibility among the leaders of developing nations to make it happen.

If the WTO doesn’t come unstuck, it will still serve the useful function of arbitrating disputes between its members. Yet it will have lost one of its chief purposes, which is to lower trade barriers.

It’s good to have big goals, but perhaps the WTO should think about playing small ball, at least for a short while. The Doha round was a swing for the fences. At this crucial juncture, however, it may be wiser to hope for a mere base hit–not a swing and a miss, but a solid knock that keeps the inning alive.

One idea may be to admit what everyone knows: Doha is dead, and it’s time to move on. Perhaps we need an entirely new round, with a new name.

That won’t magically change the geopolitical dynamics that caused WTO to reach its current impasse. Yet it could be an essential public-relations maneuver that revives global trade–and creates an opportunity for Azevedo to go to Geneva.

Dean Kleckner is Chairman Emeritus for Truth About Trade & Technology  (www.truthabouttrade.org). 

 

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