Whether the Doha lite, or in my opinion "extra lite" agenda is agreed upon by the end of the year, or even a "zero" one (ie no deal, end of the round that started in November 2001 in Doha) I do agree with the view that the era of progress in trade multilateralism is probably over.
As I have pointed out in my posts that one can find on this blog, after the 2003 failed Cancun meeting of the WTO, many bilateral and regional trade (or more than just trade) agreements have popped up.
A few days ago (25/5), I posted on what systemics I can see developing post Doha. IMO China, India, the US, the EU (mainly) plus Japan, Russia and Brazil or UNASUR (South America's "EU" project that of course includes Brazil) will be the main "players" in the world economic "arena".
The WTO rules as they stood before the Doha Round of talks in 2001 will probably still exist (although the survival of the WTO is not a given IMO) plus whatever rules come out of the Doha lite agenda that some seem to hope to be concluded (I have my doubts, read the WSJ article for some of the reasons, aka USA, plus. as far as I know, the US Pres has no fast track powers given by Congress on concluding a deal, and if that is indeed so, it is possible that the US Congress may decide to amend (!!) any deal, thus bringing a new deal back to the WTO, etc).
1) Most progress in rules or deals will most likely between 2 or more of the above 4+3 main players.
2) The EU, the US, and the other main players will continue to conclude (or at least try to, see US) bilateral deals with others, in some cases group agreements, regional or not.
3) The EU needs to strengthen its position and a political union of the EU is the main such way.
Here comes some thinking that some may consider sci-fi, but we shall see:
I was involved in a most interesting discussion on Twitter (aka "tweetscussion") with a very esteemed fellow tweeter, @paulstpancras) on the night of May 29 to May 30. At some point, talking of the EU, political union potential, the UK POV, I said: "Or maybe UK would be OK with EU if merged with (the) USA; 77+ states. Then (UK) could ally with Texas, Arizona, etc! :)".
"Or a circumpolar space... USA, Canada, EU, Russia ..." proposed my fellow tweeter, which was exactly what I was also thinking as another potential scenario.
Why, because in addition to covering a ring around the planet, this union would have a population size that starts to approach that of China (1.3 billion) and India (1.2 billion):
USA+CAN+EU+Russia = 0.3 + 0.03 + 0.5 + 0.14 = 0.97 billion people.
In terms of GDP (nominal (in trillion USD) 2010 estimates (Source: CIA, World Factbook)) the picture would then be:
European Union 15.9 + United States 14.6 + Canada 1.6 + Russia 1.5 = 33.6
There is an obvious imbalance between the 33.6 and China's and India's GDP but with their rapid growth the potential for more GDP balance between the three exists.
There is another reason why a USA+EU merger would have to bring in Russia too. Russia would get very itchy if the US and EU were to merge, and including it could fix that. Canada has only 30+ million inhabitants but huge natural resources.
So while one scenario is EU+USA+Russia+Canada, another is EU+USA+Russia with almost the same population as the former, 0.94 billion and 32.0 instead of 33.6 2010 trillion USD.
But is a EU+US merger scenario even a remote possibility? Well, yes and no. 2-3 years ago, when I think the US proposed a free trade deal, some in the European Parliament said, why not a "single market". Well, IMO a single market, even without a common currency, needs single laws, which brings things, again IMO, towards a single legislature, ie political union. IMO the US+EU potential will largely depend on developments in/with China.
But what about the rest of the world? Well, China+India+EU+USA+Russia = almost 3.5 billion people. That leaves out 3.4 billion people (of the 6.9 billion total in 2010). Note: Only 11 countries have population size over 100 million but there are many countries, more than 200 in the world (planet).
Since world GDP was estimated at 62.2 trillion USD in 2010, the result of this scenario would be:
Rest of the world: 23.1
including in that 23.1:
Such a merger could prompt other countries to merge in groups, eg Japan, ASEAN & rest of Asia (with or without some of the ex-USSR states) plus Oceania, Africa, South and Central America. The world would not become a global polity, but a small number of super-countries/states (regionalisation+). Global trade talks would bring to a table reps of 4 to 6 such super-states. Not all of the world's countries would want or be included of course (and why should they, there should be room for exceptions and other approaches).
But in any case, in the complicated and perpetually changing world after 10% of the 21st century has elapsed, and the rapid growth, economic and in "power" of the BRICs as well as other developing countries, the EU has to be a single polity, it cannot continue to be a loose group of 27 countries. EU political union is a must, for the EU to be taken seriously by the rest of the world (see eg recent issues re selection of new IMF chief, the issue of a UN Security Council seat for the EU, the marginal role played by the EU as opposed to the US and China in the Copenhagen COP 15+, etc).