Back to the Table on Trade

By John Danilovich and Harold McGraw | AUGUST 12, 2014

“Global Trade Talks Suffer Another Setback” (editorial, Aug. 4) neatly captures the disappointment felt by many after the breakdown of talks to carry out the historic Bali trade agreement. But we should not conflate this “setback” with “failure” by the World Trade Organization.

This may sound, at first, like nit-picking over semantics. But if we have learned anything from a decade of global trade talks best known for missed deadlines and periodic crises, it’s that we can’t afford another period of existential reflection about the W.T.O.’s perceived shortcomings.

The better option would be to take the recent setback on the chin and get back to the negotiating table without delay.

Your editorial rightly highlights that the centerpiece of the Bali deal — a package of reforms to cut red tape at borders — could provide a stimulus to the global economy of up to $1 trillion.

Look behind the numbers and you see what that deal really means: many small businesses exporting for the first time; lower prices for consumers; reduced corruption at borders; and significantly lower rates of food waste in developing economies.

The recent setback need not mean failure. With a deal on the table that means so much to so many, we cannot afford to contemplate such an outcome. We all should work together to get the negotiations back on track.

Originally published in the NY Times