From Rob Howse:
We witnessed last week another illustration of how progress in global trade liberalization has shifted from the WTO to other fora: APEC agreed on a plan for liberalization of trade in environmental goods, by-passing negotiations in the WTO that have been going nowhere for years. One of the key stumbling blocks in the WTO was the lack of imagination and negotiating flexibility to produce a list of green goods on which tariffs would be reduced. APEC has solved it. Here is the list: http://apec.org/Press/News-Releases/2012/~/link.aspx?_id=357A0FFAFA184C278FC840F9F6E9DF36&_z=z
Now that APEC has taken the lead, there is a strong case that this list should become an international standard and that non-APEC countries should step up to the plate and also agree to reduce their applied rates to 5% or less on these products within the same time frame. No WTO negotiation is strictly speaking needed to multilaterize fully the APEC result. Indeed, this could be an experiment in how we can achieve multilateral progress on trade without the WTO, which is rapidly becoming an anachronism as far as negotiating fora are concerned: the WTO's comparative advantage is, clearly, dispute settlement and related monitoring and administration of the existing legal framework-crucial functions that are being done well but where the Organization needs to invest in certain improvements, such as professionalizing the panels. It is time to stop wasting time and money on the Doha agenda, which is outdated and a hopeless basis for a forward-looking accord that grapples with the issues of today and tomorrow.