Rethinking Special and Differential Treatment in the WTO

Discussion Papers


by YANAI Akiko

December 2013


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.

Keywords: Special and differential treatment, WTO, trade policy, development
JEL classification: F13, K33, O19

PDF (215KB)

Please note that discussion papers are works in various stages of progress and most have not been edited and proofread and may contain errors of fact or judgment. Revised versions of these papers may subsequently appear in more formal publication series. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). The IDE does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included and accepts no responsibility for any consequences arising from its use.