Background Note | HBS Case Collection | December 2010 (Revised April 2012)

Stalemate at the WTO: TRIPS, Agricultural Subsidies, and the Doha Round

by Arthur A. Daemmrich


This note analyzes disputes over intellectual property enforcement and agricultural trade barriers at the center of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. Fundamental principles of intellectual property rights and agricultural subsidies are described, along with the challenges of creating and operating multilateral institutions. The note begins with a brief history of multilateral negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), then describes key events of the Doha Round that began in 2001, and the WTO's dispute settlement process. A stalemate has developed between developed and developing countries in WTO talks, leading to the proliferation of bilateral agreements. The note challenges readers to develop an informed position on global trade governance and the economic benefits and political tradeoffs associated with reduced trade barriers and the elimination of domestic subsidies.

Keywords: Agribusiness; Trade; Globalization; Governance; International Relations; Intellectual Property; Agreements and Arrangements; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry;


Daemmrich, Arthur A. "Stalemate at the WTO: TRIPS, Agricultural Subsidies, and the Doha Round." Harvard Business School Background Note 711-043, December 2010. (Revised April 2012.)