Agenda Disputes and Strategic Venue Preferences: The Doha Crisis and Europe’s Flight to Regionalism

Francisco Toro


Agenda-setting disputes have become increasingly central to the conduct of multilateral trade negotiations. Introducing some simple concepts from Negotiations Theory, we focus on the dynamic interplay between the Doha Round’s agenda setting and bargaining stages, underlining their implications for the European Union’s evolving win-set in the negotiations. We argue that, by successful enshrining a narrow agenda, key developing countries reduced the set of possible final settlements that were both multilaterally viable and attractive from the point of view of key European interests. In an attempt to avoid imposing concentrated costs on those interests, the European Commission has responded by pursuing its best alternative to a multilateral agreement, shifting negotiating resources away from the multilateral table and towards regional FTA negotiations.

JEL Code: F13

Keywords: Trade Policy-making, Doha Round, EU, sectoral lobbying, trade negotiations

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872