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Developing countries launch special and differential treatment paper

30 September 2001

In September 2001 twelve developing countries formed the Like Minded Group (LMG) and circulated a paper setting out proposals for a Framework Agreement on Special and Differential Treatment. According to the LMG proposal this should involve fuller implementation and re-balancing of the WTO Agreements which currently favour the interests of developed country members. In the short term it calls for all existing S&D treatment provisions to be implemented. Five ACP countries: Dominican Republic, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, signed up to this LMG position.

Editorial comment

The reality facing developing countries is that the WTO provisions on special and differential treatment are largely best endeavour clauses, which do not carry the same weight as other WTO commitments when it comes to reconciling different commitments entered into under WTO agreements.  This means that developing countries commonly find their rights to special and differential treatment being subordinated to other WTO principles.  In the case of the ACP, the principle of non-discrimination is given far greater weight in considering questions of the WTO compatibility of trade arrangements than the right of developing countries to special and differential treatment.

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