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World trade reform: do developing countries gain or lose?

Research report

Written by Sheila Page

Research report

The Uruguay Round Table of trade negotiations reduced barriers to trade in all economic sectors, with the largest changes in food and clothing.

An unprecedented number of activities and government policies related to trade will come under international regulation for the first time as the move from GATT to the World Trade Organization creates a new institution with stronger powers as well as wider responsibilities.

For the developing countries, the effects of this new international framework are increased because their privileges are defined more precisely, but also more narrowly. Estimates of the consequences have varied from massive gains to crippling losses.

This report analyses the changes and, where possible, quantifies them and sets out their impact on a range of countries at different stages of development.

Finally it considers how the new trading system may need to evolve to meet its increasing responsibilities.

Sheila Page and Michael Davenport