Opening Markets for Poor Countries: Are We There Yet?
Despite six decades of trade liberalization, trade policies in rich countries still discriminate against the exports of the world’s poorest countries. Preferential market access programs were designed to spur larger and more diversified exports from developing countries, but product exclusions and burdensome rules undermined their usefulness, especially for the poorer countries. Most rich countries have made reforms since the UN Millennium Declaration in 2000 called for duty-free, quota-free market access for the least-developed countries. After the World Trade Organization ministerial communiqué called upon developing countries “in a position to do so” to also provide such access, key countries have moved toward that goal. But much remains to be done to achieve the goal of meaningful market access for the poorest countries, including reformed rules of origin that facilitate rather than inhibit trade.