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  • Print publication year: 2003
  • Online publication date: September 2009

1 - An overview: options for global trade reform – a view from the Asia-Pacific

Summary

Introduction: the setting and major themes

Prior to the successful Doha Ministerial in November 2001, the Asia-Pacific had played host to three of the most influential meetings on international trade and investment cooperation in the 1990s – the APEC Leaders' meeting in Bogor in 1994; the Singapore Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1996; and the WTO Ministerial meeting at Seattle in November 1999. The first of these, the APEC Leaders' meeting at Bogor in 1994, set the extremely ambitious goal of free and open trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific by 2020. The second, the initial Ministerial meeting of the new WTO, built on the ambitions of the Uruguay Round and added investment and competition policy, trade facilitation, and transparency in government procurement to the agenda. The third of these meetings, proved to be important in an entirely different way, and was unable to adopt even an agenda for further discussions. Only after a long period of hard work and preparation could agreement on a Doha Development Agenda be reached in November 2001 (WTO 2001a).

The failure of the Seattle Ministerial involved a number of elements, the most important of which related to poor preparation, the breadth of the agenda, and the approaches to be adopted in particular areas (Schott 2000). Inside the meeting, a key source of discord and dismay was the traditional divide on agriculture, between the group of industrial countries that protect their agricultural sectors, and the agricultural exporters – both developed and developing.

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