The urgency of Doha

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article this morning about the state of the Doha round of trade talks, which, as you know, have stalled after hitting various roadblocks. Secretary Paulson is doing his part to gain support for the talks, setting some time aside during his globetrotting to stress its importance. As the article points out, time is a factor:

The administration is banking that all the political maneuvering will help inject some momentum back into the talks by the spring. The goal isn't necessarily to finish a deal then, but to show enough progress to persuade skeptics in Congress to extend the president's trade-negotiating authority beyond June, when it is set to expire.

While the new Congress is going to be a bit more skeptical of free trade, Doha appears to still be the focus of many in the administration. During an address to the Chamber of Commerce, Trade Representative Susan Schwab said: "We cannot let a strong, potential Doha deal slip through our fingers." The WSJ goes further, highlighting what's at stake:

Whether the Bush administration is able to restart the Doha talks could serve as a measure of the muscle behind critics of free trade in the U.S. And if the impasse on Doha becomes permanent, it could herald the closing of the era of global economic integration that began after World War II.

As many of you know, NDN addressed these concerns back in September in a memo entitled Rebuilding the National Consensus on Trade.