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Implementation of Ururguay Round commitments : the development challenge


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  • Finger, Michael J.
  • Schuler, Philip


At the Uruguay Round, developing countries took on unprecedented obligations not only to reduce trade barriers, but to implement significant reforms both of trade procedures, e.g., import licensing procedures, customs valuation and of many areas of regulation that establish the basic business environment in the domestic economy, e.g., technical, sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS), intellectual property law. Implementing such reforms are investment decisions in that implementation will require purchase of equipment, training of people, establishment of systems of checks and balances, etc. This will cost money and the amounts of money involved are substantial. Based on World Bank project experience in the areas covered by the agreements, an entire year's development budget is at stake in many of the least developed countries. Least developed country institutions in these areas are weak, and would benefit from strengthening and reform. However, the authors'analysis indicates that the World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations reflect little awareness of development problems and little appreciation of the capacities of the least developed countries to carry out the functions that SPS, customs valuation, intellectual property, etc. regulations address. The content of these obligations can be characterized as the advanced countries saying to the others,"Do it my way!"The authors touch at the beginning on another important point. Because of their limited capacity to participate in the Uruguay Round negotiations, the WTO process has generated no sense of"ownership"of the reforms to which WTO membership obligates them. From their perspective, the implementation exercise has been imposed in an imperial way, with little concern for what it will cost, how it will be done, or if it will support their development efforts.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2215.

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Date of creation: 31 Oct 1999
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2215

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Keywords: Economic Theory&Research; Judicial System Reform; Rules of Origin; Environmental Economics&Policies; Customs Administration; Economic Theory&Research; Rules of Origin; Trade and Regional Integration; Environmental Economics&Policies; Customs Administration;


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  1. Finger, J. Michael & Schuknecht, Ludger, 1999. "Market access advances and retreats : the Uruguay Round and beyond," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2232, The World Bank.
  2. Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Kimberly Ann Elliott, 1994. "Measuring the Costs of Protection in the United States," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 77.
  3. Primo Braga, Carlos A & Fink, Carsten, 1998. "Reforming Intellectual Property Rights Regimes: Challenges for Developing Countries," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(4), pages 537-54, December.
  4. Abbott, Frederick M, 1998. "The Enduring Enigma of Trips: A Challenge for the World Economic System," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(4), pages 497-521, December.
  5. Otten, Adrian, 1998. "Implementation of the Trips Agreement and Prospects for Its Further Development," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(4), pages 523-36, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Schiff, Maurice, 2002. "Regional integration and development in small states," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2797, The World Bank.
  2. Julio J. Nogues, 2005. "Issues on Agricultural Negotiations in the FTAA and Linkages With the Doha Round," International Trade 0502006, EconWPA.
  3. Julio J. Nogues, 2005. "Unequal Exchange: Developing Countries in the International Trade Negotiations," International Trade 0502008, EconWPA.
  4. Hoekman, Bernard & Vines, David, 2007. "Multilateral Trade Cooperation: What Next?," CEPR Discussion Papers 6458, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Martin, Will, 2001. "Trade policy reform in the East Asian transition economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2535, The World Bank.
  6. Anderson, Kym & Martin, Will, 2005. "Agricultural trade reform and the Doha development agenda," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3607, The World Bank.
  7. Henson, Spencer & Loader, Rupert, 2001. "Barriers to Agricultural Exports from Developing Countries: The Role of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Requirements," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 85-102, January.
  8. Ianchovichina, Elena & Walmsley, Terrie, 2003. "The impact of China's WTO accession on East Asia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3109, The World Bank.
  9. Finger, J. Michael & Wilson, John S., 2006. "Implementing a WTO agreement on trade facilitation : what makes sense ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3971, The World Bank.
  10. Hoekman, Bernard, 2002. "Strengthening the global trade architecture for development," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2757, The World Bank.
  11. Arvind Panagariya, 2002. "Developing Countries at Doha: A Political Economy Analysis," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(9), pages 1205-1233, 09.
  12. Maskus, Keith E. & Wilson, John S. & Tsunehiro Otsuki, 2000. "Quantifying the impact of technical barriers to trade : a framework for analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2512, The World Bank.
  13. Hoekman, Bernard & Michalopoulos, Constantine & Winters, L. alan, 2003. "More favorable and differential treatment of developing countries : toward a new approach in the World Trade Organization," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3107, The World Bank.


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