Mother mercantilism

There was a small measure of progress at the WTO Hong Kong conference, but negotiators still see trade as an arm of politics

By Jack Thurston   118

To leaven the mood at the opening session of the WTO ministerial conference in Hong Kong in mid-December, Pascal Lamy, the WTO’s newly installed director general, pulled a magic wand from his breast pocket. Progress has been so slow and the main protagonists dug in to such seemingly irreconcilable positions that Lamy, who has the unenviable task of brokering a final deal, could be forgiven for resorting to sorcery.

But if he had been looking for a prop to sum up the overall mood of the delegates and observers arriving in Hong Kong, Lamy might well have brandished a stethoscope.…

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