The WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun, Mexico (September 10-15, 2003) brought together delegates from 148 member countries and was intended as a general stock-taking session to assess the way to move forward in key areas such as tariff reduction on industrial products, agricultural reform, foreign investment rules, and competition policies. The meeting was part of a new round of world trade talks launched in Doha, Qatar in November 2001 intended to focus on the needs of the developing countries. To the surprise of many, but not all, the conference collapsed in the face of fundamental differences between rich and poor nations. Clearly, the happenings at Cancun require an assessment, not just of what went wrong at the meetings, but also of the broader issue of whether or not the existing structure of the WTO is up to the challenges ahead. With this in mind, this Strategic Insight will examine the main issues confronting delegates at the Cancun meetings. What were the main issues? The positions taken? The main reasons for failure? Based on this assessment, the final sections speculate as to the WTO's future with implications drawn from the lessons of Cancun.
Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Contemporary Conflict: http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil
Strategic Insights (October 2003), v.2 no.10