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Rethinking special and differential treatment in the WTO


  • Yanai, Akiko


Special and differential treatment (S&D) allows differentiated treatment for developing countries within the WTO system by justifying a deviation from the most-favoured-nation obligation. Since it was incorporated into the GATT (the predecessor of the WTO) in the 1960s, S&D has played a significant role in promoting the integration of developing countries into the multilateral trading system. However, S&D is undergoing complicated and entangled discussion at the current multilateral trade negotiations, the Doha Development Agenda. There are a number of reasons to make opposing arguments in developed and developing countries, among which this paper focuses on two elements: diversification of developing countries and instability of preferential schemes. In order to overcome these problems and in order to make S&D more effective and operational, this paper considers the following alternative approaches: differentiation among developing countries applying the common but differentiated responsibility (CBDR) principle by analogy and codification of a preferential scheme as a multilateral agreement in the manner of North-South RTAs with flexibility.

Suggested Citation

  • Yanai, Akiko, 2013. "Rethinking special and differential treatment in the WTO," IDE Discussion Papers 435, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  • Handle: RePEc:jet:dpaper:dpaper435

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Keck, Alexander & Low, Patrick, 2004. "Special and differential treatment in the WTO: Why, when and how?," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2004-03, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
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    More about this item


    Developing countries; Trade policy; International trade; WTO; Special and differential treatment; Development;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations


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