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Special and Differential Treatment in Trade Regimes: A Comparative Analysis between GATT, the WTO, the FTAA, and Cotonou

By Pável Isa Contreras | Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) | October 25, 2005

Written by Pável Isa Contreras and Miguel Ceara-Hatton Abstract

This article argues that Special & Differential Treatment (S&D) for smaller and developing economies has been substantially weakened at the multilateral and hemispheric levels by introducing and enforcing far-reaching mandatory commitments, while S&D provisions are mostly non-mandatory and limited in scope and depth. This has been the result of the dominant doctrine that subordinates growth and development to trade liberalization and integration to the world economy. The consequence has been an increasing inability of smaller and developing countries to implement development policies and to design policies responsive to a development agenda; and a growing dissatisfaction by developing countries with the new multilateral trade agreements. The weaknesses of the S&D provisions in the FTAA promise to ignore asymmetries between developed and developing countries in the hemisphere, and to increase the restrictions on policy making. Changing these trends demands that development be put back on the agenda, and that the design of trade policies and regimes be responsive to development goals rather than the other way around. Nonetheless, the proposed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Africa Caribbean Pacific countries (ACP) and the European Union (EU) as delineated in the Cotonou Agreement (CA) seem to be pointing toward deeper commitments with respect to S&D for the ACP group.

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Read More: Development, Globalization, Governance, Trade, Global

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