Ever wonder why it's taking so long for the U.S. and other members of the World Trade Organization to strike a new deal to open their markets to each others' goods and services? OK, so we could talk about the higher level concepts of globalization, competitiveness and mercantilism, but let's leave those aside for now and get down what actually happens in the lake-side meeting rooms in Geneva.
Just prior to the holiday break, veteran of international trade diplomacy and U.S. Ambassador to the WTO Peter Allgeier made a short speech to his counterparts that essentially summarizes the not-so-merry-go-round of the "Doha" negotiations so far and points directly at how each country can reach for the brass ring. Although the U.S. and others are leaning for it, and some differences have narrowed in recent months, others deny that a ring is even there for the taking.
If some sacred cows are to be gored — so that a deal can provide real market access gains for exporters — then it's time for the roundup to start.