How do power asymmetries and domestic influences effect the course and outcome of international bargaining? The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) most recent round of multilateral negotiations have suggested an answer to this question in its struggle to continue the economic liberalization process. Known as the Doha Development Round (“Doha Round”), substantive talks began in November 2001 and reached a stalemate in 2008, in which rising powers and developed countries failed to settle an agreement on the scope, modalities, and aims of the negotiations on agriculture.
The following analysis seeks to expose the theoretical basis of the Doha Round and its failures by examining the events primarily through the lens of William Zartman’s model of process and implementation. For the purposes of this study, I will specifically examine the bargaining relationship between the developed and developing country coalitions on the issue of agriculture liberalization. Where process analysis fails to account for the intricacies and dynamics of state actors, I will insert W. M. Habeeb’s theory on issue-specific bargaining power as well as Robert Putnam’s model of two-level games. Using the Doha Round as a case study, I will contend that general theories of process as espoused by Zartman fail to capture the complexities and difficulties of multilateral negotiation in an intergovernmental context. In order to fully realize this, factors at both the structural and domestic levels must be considered.