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This Chapter raises the question “Whither WTO?” and attempts at providing an answer. Obviously, the Doha Round is in dire straits and one would have to be an inveterate optimist to believe it can be concluded in the near future. But the more serious problem is the crisis facing the famed dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO which could grind to a halt if US objections are not dealt with adequately without further delay. It is the author’s belief that India is well placed to play the role of an honest broker in this matter. India has a systemic interest in the dispute settlement mechanism and must deploy its negotiating efforts to find a compromise to this vexed issue before it is too late. As for the future of WTO, it is too important to allow it to wither away even for countries like India. So this Chapter ends with some ideas to revive the WTO. One idea worth exploring is to link future negotiations in the WTO with the universally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so that any trade agreement should at a minimum, not impede the achievement of SDGs and ideally, enable the achievement of those goals by governments. This would not only provide comfort to the vast majority of developing and least developed countries but also justify the rationale of WTO—that free trade can actually benefit all countries rather than just a few.
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The Doha Ministerial Declaration adopted on November 14, 2001.
For an excellent account of the Cancun Ministerial see Narlikar, Amrita and Wilkinson, Rorden. January 2007. “Collapse at the WTO: A Cancun Post-mortem”, Third World Quarterly.
Wilkinson, Rorden. September 2014. “The WTO in Bali: What MC9 Means for the Doha Development Agenda and Why It Matters”, Third World Quarterly.
Donnan, Shawn. December 21, 2015. “Trade Talks Lead to Death of Doha and Birth of New WTO”, Financial Times.
Doha Ministerial Declaration, Adopted on November 14, 2001.
Bhagwati, Jagdish and Sutherland, Peter. January 2011. The Doha Round: Setting a Deadline, Defining a Final Deal, Interim Report.
For the 17 SDGs agreed to by all 193 UN Members in 2015, see https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org.
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