Na RBPI 1/2012, excelente artigo de Eiiti Sato e Susan Cesar sobre os impasses de Doha

CESAR, Susan Elizabeth Martins  and  SATO, Eiiti. A Rodada Doha, as mudanças no regime do comércio internacional e a política comercial brasileira. Rev. bras. polít. int. [online]. 2012, vol.55, n.1, pp. 174-193. ISSN 0034-7329.  

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WTO Doha Round deadlock: mismatch between Doha’s agenda and the new dynamics in world trade

Many reasons explain why the WTO Doha Round has failed to reach an agreement after more than ten years of negotiations. In the paper published in Revista Brasileira de Relações Internacionais (RBPI, vol.55, 1/2012), researchers argue that negotiations did not succeeded because the Doha negotiating mandate did not properly reflect the deep transformations that are in course in the structure of global production and in the international trade landscape. Using the global value chains approach to analyze the increasingly complex reality of trade in goods and services, the authors aim to shed some light over the issue. They argue that governments of many WTO member countries have not yet properly captured the strong impacts of these changes that have taken place in the organization of production over international trade. As a result, these countries produce inadequate trade policies, which are translated into their positions in the multilateral negotiations.

The paper analyses the transformations in global trade, which has increased enormously since the early years of GATT – General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Back then, exported merchandize accounted for no more than 7 percent of the global output. In 2001, when the WTO Doha Round was launched, this figure had increased to approximately 24 percent. In parallel to the significant increase in trade flows in the last quarter of a century, there was a substantial fragmentation and dispersion of industrial production across the globe, generating new ways of international exchanges among and within companies, through outsourcing and offshoring initiatives.

The paper draws from the recent literature developed specially by Gereffi, Sturgeon and colleagues on the concept of global value chains (GVCs), which describes these new production arrangements that include the various activities performed by different agents in different countries – from product conception to consumer services. The paper calls for governments and decision-makers to properly acknowledge this new global trade framework, where the trade of parts and components has increased dramatically and the fragmentation of activities along the production chains has led to an increase in the “trade in tasks”. At the same time, the paper outlines that the WTO multilateral negotiations would gain relevance if they addressed the challenges and opportunities arising from these new trends in the globalized industrial production.

The paper argues that the mismatch between the Doha negotiating agenda and the new world trade realities resides in the fact that most WTO member countries, such as Brazil, to a great extent have not yet fully aligned their trade policies to the new international trade dynamics. As an instructive case, the paper analyses Brazil’s foreign trade policy conducted along the last ten years. Based on trade data available for the period, the authors conclude that Brazilian agencies and trade promotion mechanisms are still driven by traditional conceptions of trade of commodities and finished goods. They consider that the country has only partially assimilated into its trade strategy the important changes in the international trade patterns brought about by global value chains’ industrial strategies and by economic globalization in general.

The paper concludes by suggesting that the adoption of an integrated trade strategy in which investments, innovation and value-added foreign trade are put together could be an effective tool in leveraging Brazil’s exports of industrial goods. By this way Brazil would be able to increase competitiveness, and its foreign trade would strongly contribute to domestic job creation and technological development, reflecting the modern face of the Brazilian economy. Brazil’s implementation of a modernized conception of foreign trade would also positively reflect on the country’s views of multilateral trade negotiations.

  • Susan Elizabeth Martins Cesar é Doutoranda em Relações Internacionais pela Universidade de Brasília (UnB), E-mail: susan@unb.br 
  • Eiiti Sato é Professor do Instituto de Relações Internacionais da Universidade de Brasília (IREL/UnB), E-mail: rel.sato@gmail.com


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