Learn more about Doha round
The Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization negotiations aims to lower trade barriers around the world, permitting free trade between countries of varying prosperity. Talks have been hung up over a divide between the European Union and the United States and the major developing countries (represented by the G20 developing nations), led and represented mainly, however, by the G4 bloc.
The Doha round began with a ministerial-level meeting in Doha, Qatar in 2001, with subsequent ministerials in Cancún, Mexico (2003), and Hong Kong, China (2005). Related negotiations have taken place in: Geneva, Switzerland; Paris, France; and again Geneva.
The Doha round of WTO negotiations began in November 2001. This round was to have begun at the 3rd ministerial conference in Seattle in 1999, and was to have been called "The Seattle Round" but severe demonstrations disrupted those meetings, and this round's beginning was put off until the meetings at the more secure and controllable Doha, Qatar. The purpose was to agree on the Doha Development Agenda, and from there negotiate opening agricultural and manufacturing markets. The intent of the round, according to its proponents, was to make trade rules fairer for developing countries.  Opponents charged that the round would expand a system of trade rules that were bad for development and interfered excessively with countries' domestic "policy space". 
The 2003 Cancún talks — intended to forge concrete agreement on the Doha round objectives — collapsed after four days during which the members could not agree on farm subsidies and access to markets. Negotiations focused upon four key areas: agriculture, industrial goods, trade in services, and updated customs codes.
The North-South divide was most prominent on issues of agriculture. Rich countries’ farm subsidies (both the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and the U.S. government agro-subsidies) became a major sticking point. The developing countries were seen as finally having the confidence to reject a deal that they viewed as unfavorable. This is reflected by the new trade bloc of developing and industrialized nations: the G20. Since its creation, the G20 has had fluctuating membership, but is spearheaded by the G4 (People's Republic of China, India, Brazil & South Africa), and overall accounts for approximately 65% of the world population, 72% of its farmers and at least 2/3 of its agricultural output.
 Geneva, 2004
The August 2004 Geneva talks achieved a framework agreement on opening global trade. The U.S., EU, Japan and Brazil agreed to end export subsidies, reduce agricultural subsidies and lower tariff barriers. Developing nations agreed to reduce tariffs on manufactured goods, but gain the right to specially protect key industries. The agreement also provides for simplified customs, and stricter rules for rural development aid.
 Paris, 2005
Trade negotiators wanted to make tangible progress before the December 2005 WTO meeting in Hong Kong, and hoped to agree to the deal before 2007 when U.S. fast-track legislation expires. Without fast-track, it will be much harder to get a ratification from the U.S. Senate.
Paris talks were hanging over a few issues: France protested moves to cut subsidies to farmers, while the U.S., Australia, the EU, Brazil and India failed to agree on issues relating to chicken, beef and rice. Most of the sticking points were small technical issues, making trade negotiators fear that agreement on large politically risky issues will be substantially harder.
By July-August an agreement was needed in order to finalize negotiations for agreement in Hong Kong. Oxfam charged the EU with "delaying tactics" which have threatened to spoil the round.
 Hong Kong
Trade ministers representing most of the world's governments reached a deal that sets a deadline for eliminating subsidies of agricultural exports by 2013. The final declaration from the talks, which resolved several issues that have stood in the way of a global trade agreement, also requires industrialized countries to open their markets to goods from the world's poorest nations, a goal of the United Nations for many years. The declaration gives fresh impetus for negotiators to try to finish a comprehensive set of global free trade rules by the end of 2006. Pascal Lamy, Director General of the WTO, said, "I now believe it is possible, which I did not a month ago."
As many as 2000 protestors demonstrated outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, the location of the talks. Clashes with the police left at least 116 people injured, including 56 officers, although there were no critical injuries according to the authorities.
 Geneva, 2006
The July 2006 talks in Geneva failed to reach an agreement about reducing farming subsidies and lowering import taxes, and continuation of the negotiations will take months to resume. A successful outcome of the Doha round has become increasingly unlikely, because the broad trade authority granted under the Trade Act of 2002 to U.S. president George W. Bush expires in 2007. Any trade pact will then have to be approved by the U.S. Congress with the possibility of amendments, which creates an additional burden on the U.S. negotiators and decreases the willingness of other countries to participate.
Hong Kong offered to mediate the collapsed trade liberalisation talks. Director-General of Trade and Industry, Raymond Young, says the territory, which hosted the last round of Doha negotiations, has a "moral high-ground" on free trade that allows it to play the role of "honest broker".
- Hong Kong disappointed by Doha talks collapse, from Radio Television Hong Kong, 26 July, 2006
- No Tears for Doha, from The Guardian, 26 July, 2006
- WTO global trade talks collapse, from CNN, 24 July, 2006
- Europe blames US for WTO failure, from BBC News, 24 July, 2006
- WTO Talks Collapse : Good News for the Developing World from Focus on the Global South, 1st July, 2006
- Global Trade Watch Statement on Collapse of Talks
- Vatican Statement on latest Doha Round mini-ministerial
- Trade agreement at a glance, from BBC News, 2 August, 2004
- Q&A: WTO trade breakthrough, from BBC News, 1 August, 2004
- World trade deal gets thumbs-up, from BBC News, 1 August, 2004
- Timeline: World Trade Organisation, from BBC News
- Larry Elliott, The Guardian, June 15 2005, "West accused of concealing farm subsidies: Oxfam says EU and US are exploiting loopholes and using creative accounting to avoid real trade concessions to developing countries"
- Congressional Research Service Report on Doha Round
- Congressional Research Service Report on Agriculture in Doha Round
- THE HOYOS FILE: Going bananas over global trade, from Nation Newspaper, July 31de:Doha-Runde