Go to contents

[Opinion] Actively Enforcing the `New Round` Negotiation

[Opinion] Actively Enforcing the `New Round` Negotiation

Posted September. 12, 2001 09:19,   


In the unofficial meeting for the general directors of the World Trade Organization (WTO) held at the end of July was the `reality check` of the New Round which was scheduled to be introduced on November 9-13th in Doha, Qatar. The introduction of the New Round appeared to have failed due to the anti-global movement of the Non-Government Organization (NGO) that reached its peak during the third Cabinet meeting held in Seattle, USA, in November 1999!

A more important reason for the failure, however, was due to the fact that the views of the member nations concerning the issue of the New Round were not sufficiently tuned. With regard to this situation, the WTO worked around the European Union (EU), Japan, and Korea, to build up credibility among developing nations concerning the introduction of the New Round.

Nevertheless an examination of the content of the reality check during the general directors` meeting reveals that the introduction of the New Round in November is unlikely. This is because the member nations are clinging on to their former position concerning the necessity and the subject matter of the New Round.

The US and the EU share similar views concerning the necessity of introducing the New Round, but they persist in their differing views over agricultural and environmental problems. The problem goes deeper because the developing nations, which constitute the majority of the member nations, are showing negative attitude toward the existence of the New Round itself. With the opposition from the developing nations, the WTO, which makes decisions based on consensus, will not be able to proceed to introduce the New Round. Should this happen, only the current negotiations concerning agriculture and service could continue.

In Korea, where 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) relies on trade, the expansion of free trade and the supplementation of majority norm become an absolute condition for survival. Accordingly, the New Round ought to be introduced in the Cabinet meeting in November, and the subject matter should contribute to Korea`s national interest. In particular the supplementation of norm for anti-dumping must be chosen as a subject matter. This is especially important in view of the fact that Korean merchandise are suffering from severe restraint from the anti-dumping norm in the US, as well as Southeast Asia and South America.

Such goal can only be met if the New Round is introduced. Hence Korea`s immediate concern is nothing more than the introduction of the New Round. That is why it is important that the developing nations, which recently entered the scene and have not yet achieved noticeable gains from the WTO system, must not reject the New Round but rather make an effort to accept it with a positive attitude. An option would be to rename the New Round as the Development Round as a symbolic gesture to show that the New Round will be introduced on behalf of the developing nations.

Practically, the problems of the present system identified by the developing nations must be carefully dealt with during this New Round. Fortunately, the board of directors for the WTO merchandise trade made the decision to defer the trade-related investment negotiation dates for some developing nations such as Malaysia and Mexico to two or four years. In order to involve the developing nations, results advantageous to the developing nations must be produced through the New Round.

Developing nations, unlike advanced nations, do not favor the adoption of new issues such as environment, competition policy, and investment as subject matters. If the developing nations continue to oppose the adoption of new issues, new issues could be discussed only among member nations who are willing. The WTO will be able to adopt exceptional norms that only apply to certain member nations through multi-national negotiation. Government purchase negotiation is a classic example of this. Consequently, adopting a multi-national approach toward problems related to trade such as environment, competition policy, and investment, would also serve as a practical alternative.

Along with this, should the introduction of the New Round fail or the establishments of the subject matter not contribute to the national interests of Korea, attempts should be made for dual or regional cooperation with nations having major export markets. In view of the unstable system of 21st century multi-trade, the concluding of free trade negotiations with several regions and nations is inevitable.

The secretary-general of WTO, Mike Moor, made an appeal to the representatives of the member nations to search for ways to tune their divergent views during this summer vacation.

Accordingly the trade department of each member nation would have sought after an alternative while being oblivious to the summer heat. The government must not only take active measures to make way for the New Round, but also make necessary preparations to ensure that Korea`s position will be accepted by other member nations.