Multilateral trade negotiations that started two years ago in Doha stalled on September 14, 2003, in Cancun, Mexico. This impasse raises serious questions of whether or not trade can become an engine to boost development in the world’s poorest countries. Success in these negotiations is critical for the world’s least-developed countries. What is not understood is that successfully meeting the least-developed countries’ demands is also important to the United States and other developed countries.
The developing countries do not speak with one voice, and, in fact, proposals from different developing countries sometimes conflict. However, the mandate for the Doha Round gives particular emphasis to the least-developed countries (LDCs), and this paper will focus on the issues the least-developed countries have raised. While developing country requests and proposals involve all issues under negotiation, market access for agricultural and labor-intensive products appears to be the principal focus of the LDCs.