K. John Mammen, Hicham Houari, and Evariste Fopoussi Fotso
This paper highlights that the current round of trade talks under the auspices of the World Trade Organization aims at better integrating developing countries—especially the small and poor ones—into the global trading system. For that reason, it was named the Doha Development Agenda when it was launched in late 2001. However, more than three years on, little progress has been made. It took a late July 2004 accord outlining “negotiating frameworks” in agriculture and industrial products just to keep the talks afloat.
This paper highlights that for the IMF, July 2004 marked the 60th anniversary of the conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, when delegations from 44 allied countries drafted and agreed upon the IMF’s charter. The IMF’s role and work have evolved in response, but like any large organization, its ability to change has been limited by its own rules and mandate and has been held back by inertia. This year’s anniversary offers an opportunity to reflect on how gaps between the reality and the ideal might be closed in the coming years.
Commodity Boom: How Long Will It Last?" asks how economies will fare after the record-high prices of key raw materials posted in recent months, which build on dramatic increases from their lows of 2000. The lead article warns that the impact on headline inflation levels might persist throughout 2008, even without further commodity price hikes. It urges policymakers to ensure efficient functioning of market forces at the global level, and to move swiftly to protect the poorest. Another article addresses the effects of climate change on agriculture, warning that farm production will fall dramatically-especially in developing countries-if steps are not taken to curb carbon emissions. Other articles on this theme argue that policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions need not hobble economies, and that financial markets can help address climate change. "People in Economics" profiles John Taylor; "Picture This" says the global energy system is on an increasingly unsustainable path; "Country Focus" spotlights South Africa; and "Straight Talk" examines early warnings provided by credit derivatives. Also in this issue, articles examine China's increasing economic engagement with Africa, and the outsourcing of service jobs to other countries.