Well, the Doha trade talks have collapsed--yet again! So what happens next?
Actually, not much. There was not a whole lot at stake to begin with for poor nations as a whole. (Cotton is a somewhat big deal for West Africa, but pretty much everything else is a mixed bag.) And if the taxpayers and consumers of the U.S. and EU want to reap the considerable benefits of reducing farm supports, they can surely do that on their own without having to be bribed by increased market access abroad. So don't listen to trade officials and editorialists who will bemoan the huge downside risks.
(Sample non-sequitur from the New York Times the other day: "Locking in lower farm subsidies would encourage direly needed agricultural investment in Africa and in poor nations that are struggling with soaring food prices." Hello? Lower farm subsidies will mean even higher world prices...)
So hang tight. Panicky statements about dire consequences and protectionist spirals will be more damaging than the actual effects of the collapse of the trade talks. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.