Professor Christopher Findlay is Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Professions at the University of Adelaide and Vice-Chair of AUSPECC
Republished from the East Asia Forum
The weather was awful outside the WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva last week, but there was some sunshine within the convention centre.
Russia acceded as a member, along with Samoa, Montenegro and Vanuatu (the club still attracts new members, and as one minister said: ‘as far as I know, nobody has asked to leave’).
The Plurilateral Government Procurement Agreement was revised — after 10 years of negotiations — further opening up procurement markets to give foreign economies better access. China is also en route to joining, having agreed to do so on its accession to the WTO, after further negotiations took place.
But there were some strange decisions, like giving countries the option to waive most favoured nation (MFN) provisions, so as to allow least-developed countries preferential access to services markets. It is not yet clear how this will happen or how it would help resolve constraints in developing countries, which hinder reforms in their own service sectors. There were some non-decisions as well. No conclusion was reached on a set of principles for food security, for example, although the WTO’s Director-General rebutted a protectionist report from a UN official.
Why the lack of progress at this year’s Ministerial Conference? Here are five suggestions. Read more…