Why the Doha failure is bad

Business, China, Company Strategy, Economics, Environment, Europe, India, US

The failure, and quite possibly the death, of the Doha round of trade negotiations earlier this week could create a very confusing and erratic regulatory landscape for the chemicals industry.

This excellent entry in the New Scientist environment blog by Fred Pearce, senior environment correspondent, makes the point that if the world cannot agree on further trade liberalisation, what hope for global climate-change legislation?

As Fred points out, John McCain, if elected, has made it clear that he won’t accepted emissions caps if China and India do not follow suit.

Obama. however, is prepared to let the US take the lead ahead of the Asian giants. He warns, though, that if they don’t agree to fall in line at some point, import tariffs could be imposed equivalent to the energy content of finished goods.

The European Union is also understood to be considering the same safeguards as it looks to extend its cap-and-trade system. Industry, including at least one of the oil-to-chemicals majors, is lobbying hard for safeguard provisions of taxes on imports if no global agreement is reached.

Chemicals and other producers would obviously shut up shop in the EU and move to countries where there was no price set on emissions or if there was no effective import-tax system or some other kind of economic disincentive.

Despite the few remaining climate-change scepticis – quite rightly derided in the same New Scientist blog – climate change as a result of human acitvity is accepted by most scientists and governments as a reality.

A global agreement on a price mechanism for carbon – whether its a cap-and-trade system and/or a tax – would be the best outcome for the chemicals industry. It would enable producers everywhere to accurately assess the cost of investment in better processes and new technologies.

They could also make reliable and predictable income through trading credits globally and from operating and licensing new technologies.

Piecemeal legislation wouldn’t provide the same degree of clarity, leading to equally piecemeal strategies from company to company and region to region.

The lawyers might also make a lot of money out of disputes over carbon import taxes.

And, of course, companies might still look to move their investments elsewhere by searching for loopholes in US and EU carbon import-tariff rules.

Just look at the money being made out of “splash and dash” in the US as an example of how rules can be exploited.

As the effects of climate change accelerate, you could also see knee-jerk nonsensical regulations introduced by governments out of sheer panic. This could make life very difficult, if not impossible, for chemical producers in certain countries.

So let’s hope the Doha round can be rescued – and that it serves as a confidence builder towards the much bigger job of a new global agreement on emissions.

PREVIOUS POST

Market mind reading

31/07/2008

Regular readers of my blog might have seen last week’s post linking throug...

Learn more
NEXT POST

The CO2 blame game

04/08/2008

In my previous post, I talked about the collapse of the Doha round of trade nego...

Learn more
More posts
Omicron, petchems and the developing world: we might get lucky this time, but maybe not next time
02/12/2021

By John Richardson UNTIL ALL of us are adequately vaccinated none of us are sufficiently protected i...

Read
Benzene, the need for a new global Industrial Revolution and the big challenges that lie ahead
30/11/2021

By John Richardson THE CHART BELOW shows that 60% of global benzene production in 2021-2040 is forec...

Read
Global polypropylene could also move from inflation to deflation in Q1 next year
23/11/2021

By John Richardson WE ALL NEED TO ASK ourselves whether the global patterns in polyethylene (PE) and...

Read
Global polyethylene could move from inflation to deflation by as early as Q1 2022
22/11/2021

By John Richardson THE BALTIC DRY INDEX, one of the excellent barometers of overall economic activit...

Read
As China coal shortages end, polyolefins margins reach historic lows on oversupply
17/11/2021

By John Richardson AGAIN, DON’T say I didn’t tell you. In my 11 October blog post, having talked...

Read
Dip in Chinese PP exports only temporary with Q1 2022 resurgence looking likely
15/11/2021

By John Richardson TRADE DATA when combined with price assessments, supply and demand estimates and ...

Read
Global polyethylene supply could lengthen, becoming a buyers’ market, sooner than many people think
12/11/2021

By John Richardson RARELY, IF EVER, have events felt so bafflingly complex in the global polyethylen...

Read
China could either see net imports of 63m tonnes in 2021-2031 or net exports of 18m tonnes!
09/11/2021

By John Richardson CONFUSED BY the above chart? Once again I certainly hope so, provided confusion i...

Read

Market Intelligence

ICIS provides market intelligence that help businesses in the energy, petrochemical and fertilizer industries.

Learn more

Analytics

Across the globe, ICIS consultants provide detailed analysis and forecasting for the petrochemical, energy and fertilizer markets.

Learn more

Specialist Services

Find out more about how our specialist consulting services, events, conferences and training courses can help your teams.

Learn more

ICIS Insight

From our news service to our thought-leadership content, ICIS experts bring you the latest news and insight, when you need it.

Learn more