Leadership in the WTO: Brazil, India and the Doha development agenda

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The Doha round of multilateral negotiations has witnessed the relocation of Southern powers towards the core of the World Trade Organization (WTO) decision-making structure. Brazil and India are the only developing countries that have participated consistently in all major ministerial phases of the Doha round between 2001 and 2008. Their consolidation as trading powers cannot be attributed solely to their status as emerging economies. Their projected legitimacy as representatives of the global South has operated as a catalyst in facilitating their relocation. In various phases of negotiations, however, Brazil and India have refrained from playing a proactive role in driving negotiations forward. Their defensive stance has raised questions about the two countries' prospects for systemic leadership in world trade. In explaining this condition, this article will argue that Brazilian and Indian trade diplomacy is consistently directed towards maintaining broad bases of followership. Brazil and India are disposed to exercise assertive leadership only when that accommodates the expectations and preferences of their followership in the global South. Their preoccupation with constantly reasserting their Third World image often renders blocking agreement the preferable strategy to avoid paying a high price in terms of legitimacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-293
Number of pages25
JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


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