The Development Dimension: What to Do about Differential Treatment in Trade



James Bacchus and Inu Manak | The CATO Institute

Rethinking developing country status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) is essential for the institution’s modernization and survival. The Trump administration has recognized this challenge and is seeking changes to the flexibilities provided to developing countries. Referred to as “special and differential treatment” (SDT), 183 provisions in the WTO agreements give developing countries special rights. These include more time to implement obligations, preferential tariff schemes, and technical support from developed countries. SDT was meant to help the poorest WTO members meet their obligations to the fullest extent possible. But, today, when rapidly growing markets with significant global reach lay claim to these special rights, does it serve this purpose?


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