31 Dec 2013
The Decreasing Interest of Business in the WTO: Why Should We Care and How Can We Solve It?
Think piece by Jappe Eckhardt in the E15 Initiative Functioning of the WTO series
The business community appears to have lost interest in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) negotiations, the main reason being that the World Trade Organization (WTO) does not offer sufficient opportunities for business to get involved in its affairs in a meaningful way.
Another reason for the waning enthusiasm of business in the DDA is that new issues, which are of increasing importance for companies worldwide, are not part of the Doha agenda. Consequently, business representatives have been pushing policy-makers to explore venues other than the WTO to fulfil their trade policy needs. There has been a shift in lobbying efforts from multilateral
trade deals to bilateral agreements.
If the WTO wants to reverse the trend of the business sector giving up on multilateralism, the organization needs to engage much more than it does at present with large and small businesses in developed and developing countries.
For an organization desperate for increased trust and confidence in its negotiating system, lack of support from the business community is bad news. The best way to ensure a more active and constructive involvement of the business sector with the WTO is to set up a system that enables the organization and business to interact much more systematically, and in a more structured manner than is currently the case.