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Keywords:

  • trade;
  • WTO;
  • global governance;
  • development;
  • Doha round;
  • language

The World Trade Organization's (WTO) Doha round is in trouble; but so is the way we talk about the institution and the negotiations. Economists, international lawyers, political scientists, practitioners and pundits alike have locked themselves into a deeply constraining and quite unhelpful way of talking and thinking about the WTO that has little to offer either the round or the Organization. Indeed, the way commentators have chosen to talk about the problems of the round, as well as the options for moving forward, may actually be compounding matters, reinforcing the likelihood that Doha will produce little, that future negotiations will continue to be dramatic and hard to conclude, and that inequitable outcomes will persist. My aim here is to shine a light on the bounded nature of the current debate with a view to agitating for a less constrained and more fruitful conversation about Doha, the WTO and beyond.