Entrepreneurs – most of whom, to be honest, had never heard
of the Doha Round of negotiations on world trade – should be very worried by
Most entrepreneurs have come to take global business for
granted. Those who have not should make the effort. It is competitive common
sense to use the internet to find the very best deals in the world. It is also
foolish for anyone wanting to manufacture something not to have it done in a
country without the regulatory compliance costs of employing people in the
It was not always so. World trade used to be a jungle of
tariffs and restrictions. All the clever people knew that these stifled growth
and tried to negotiate multilateral agreements to remove them.
However, a panic set in after the Wall Street Crash, and the
commitment to multilateral agreements gave way to a policy of bilateral deals
between individual states. In practice, these were few and far between. World
trade collapsed. That, not the Wall Street Crash, was the real cause of the
Learning the lesson, most of the governments of the world
committed themselves in 1947 to a process of the gradual expansion of free
trade through multilateral negotiation.
That is the process we have all come to take for granted –
and which collapsed with the Doha Round.
It is particularly worrying to hear whispers that a multilateral
deal may be impossible and that a series of bilateral deals might be the best
way to proceed.
That is just what they said in
All entrepreneurs should start following this story and
At the very least, it may impact on how all of us do
business now. At worst, if nothing is done, we may need to be preparing not
just for a passing recession but for a full dress depression.