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Report on Special and Differential Treatment

The WTO is intended to be a rules-based system, offering fair access with certain trading conditions, to provide the conditions for efficient, non-distorted growth. It also attempts to promote development, through offering favourable conditions for developing countries. These have included: market access (tariff preferences), freedom from some WTO constraints, longer lead-in times and provision of trade-related technical assistance. The Doha Ministerial Declaration directed that 'all special and differential treatment provisions shall be reviewed with a view to strengthening them and making them more precise, effective and operational'. How these objectives are to be achieved is perhaps one of the most fundamental challenges confronting the WTO from a development point of view. This project developed a report, which suggests the need for objective graduation and eligibility criteria; greater flexibility; a targeted approach to trade-related technical assistance; and more coherence of special and differential issues at the global and national levels.

Ian Gillson (former ODI Research Fellow, now with the World Bank) with Noemi Rios (Oxfam)