Special and Differential Treatment, The Multilateral Trading System and Economic Development in the 21st Century
The principle of “non-reciprocity” in international trade negotiations, together with the concept of Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT) for developing countries (DCs), were considered by the latter at the time to have been some of their important achievements in the 1950s and 1960s. Non-reciprocity indicated recognition by the international community that playing fields between developed and developing countries are not level. In order to provide some kind of parity advanced countries (ACs) were urged to give access to their markets to DCs without requiring them to open their own markets to AC goods on a reciprocal basis. The evolution of the doctrine of S&DT had its ups and downs during the various rounds of trade negotiations in the post-war period. In the event, in the important 2001 Doha ministerial declaration the concept of S&DT received an unqualified endorsement from the ministers. The main purpose of this paper is to look afresh at the concept of S&DT and revisit its economic rationale in the current context of the world economy. Unlike many advanced country evaluations and studies, which take a generally negative view of S&DT in terms of its benefits either to the DCs or to the multilateral trading system, this chapter presents a rather different view. It acknowledges the failure of some current and previous approaches to S&DT but nevertheless argues that the full support of S&DT by ministers at Doha provides a basis for working toward realising the inherent potential of S&DT for economic development.
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