Is the MFN principle obsolete?


Stuart Eizenstat, a former undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration, 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.”

What aspects of the world now move so quickly that multilateral negotiations are obsolete? The argument is not obvious to me.

More from the same article:

The Atlantic Council… 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.

Perhaps that’s a coherent story in regards to tariffs, but since it’s not possible to preferentially rescind subsidies (pdf), that’s not a very helpful suggestion in regards to the Doha round’s primary issue!