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Normative Influences of "Special and Differential Treatment" on North-South RTAs

Discussion Papers


March, 2009


Recently, there has been a surge in bilateral and regional trade arrangements between developed and developing countries, which are known as North-South RTAs. Under the current legal system of the WTO, North-South RTAs are governed by Article XXIV of the GATT or Article V of the GATS, which means such RTAs must be reciprocal and must cover substantially all the trade. On the other hand, there is another category of rules on RTAs based on the so-called Enabling Clause, which, in exceptional circumstances, provides special and differential treatment (SDT) for RTAs among developing countries. This paper considers the applicability of the SDT concept to North-South RTAs by examining why rules on RTAs and the concept of SDT were incorporated into the GATT/WTO legal framework so as to permit the derogation of most-favored-nation (MFN) obligations.

Keywords: preferential treatment, regional trade agreement, WTO
JEL classification: F15, K33

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