Rodrik: Doha failure “hardly a disaster”

If you’re frustrated by the Doha round’s failure, you might seek solace in this November 2005 piece (.doc) by Professor Dani Rodrik. He argued that the “development round” was oversold:

Talk to World Bank and World Trade Organization officials, and you will get hugely inflated claims about the benefits that the Doha round would bring. These officials often make it sound as if the livelihood of hundreds of millions of poor people in developing nations hangs in the balance…

It would be hard to identify any poor country whose development prospects are seriously blocked by restrictions on market access abroad. Any country with a sensible development strategy has the opportunity to grow its economy, with assistance from trade.

He also warned:

Indeed the only serious risk of “failure” is that the rich countries would take their own rhetoric seriously and react in unproductive ways that prove self-fulfilling. The United States, in particular, could intensify its pursuit of bilateral deals where it is able to impose increasingly inappropriate policy priorities on smaller nations.

These excerpts may make Rodrik sound like Arvind Pangariya, but reading the full article will correct that impression.