Document Type


Publication Date

February 2007


This Essay argues that the current development crisis within the Doha Round is inextricably linked to the nature of modern day trade negotiations. This Round reveals a bargaining process in which the powerful can too easily exploit and prevail over the powerless. This process is also vulnerable to domestic political maneuvers such as capture. Under these circumstances, poor countries' development concerns are not well represented, which accounts, despite years of talks, for the current sorry state of the negotiational outcome on agricultural subsidies and tariffs. To overcome these flaws of trade negotiation, this Essay suggests that certain core legal precepts, such as antiprotectionism, should limit ability to pursue mercantilist options. Adjudication under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism can also provide further discipline over the negotiation process by shedding a legal light on power differential. To tackle the problem of capture, a "bottom-up" formulation of negotiation positions through active public participation in the domestic arena will change the dynamic of the two-level game and thus deliver negotiating positions that cater to the broad public welfare, not to the most powerful special interests.