US experts call for new trade system (Krishna Guha, April 20 2007, Financial Times)
[The Atlantic Council of the US], which is chaired by two former US commerce undersecretaries, said the struggle to complete the Doha round showed that it was no longer possible to make meaningful progress in a global negotiating system that operated through consensus. It said economies willing to offer large tariff and subsidy cuts need to be able to deal with the “free rider” problem by not extending the same terms to everyone regardless of whether they made equally big concessions – the so-called MFN principle.
A coalition of pro-free trade states should be able to exclude non-participants from taking advantage of tariff cuts in specific product lines, though not from sectoral agreements.
Stuart Eizenstat, a former undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration, said this proposal would be compatible with World Trade Organisation rules and the coalition of the willing would agree to use the existing WTO dispute settlement mechanism.
Mr Eizenstat said whether the current Doha trade round yielded an agreement or not, it should be the last of its kind. “The world is moving too fast for this kind of consensus-driven, five, six, seven, eight-year rounds.”
In order to preserve sovereignty, the rulings ought to be merely advisory.