Developing Countries and the Jurisprudence of the WTO

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Kusha Haraksingh


Developing countries have a particularly hard time ahead in the negotiating agenda on the reform of international trade. In a sense they are committed to fight against the tide of free trade and the principles enshrined therein: most favored nation status, which means that the most favorable terms given to any party must be extended to all, and the rule on national treatment, which means that the concessions extended to locally produced goods and services must be extended to foreign counterparts. The apprehension that the undiluted application of these principles is a road to disaster has strengthened the search for exceptions; the danger is that this can put developing countries on the defensive, as can be gleaned from the very name of the exceptions: Special and Differential Treatment, Preference, Waivers. Thus, they may find themselves in the position of always having to make the case, or worse, of seeming eccentric, even perverse, especially in the light of the view that the application of free trade principles will increase aggregate welfare. How the jurisprudence of the WTO will develop as the issues become more and more technical, for example in the calculation of dumping margins, or injury, or in SPS cases, over the appropriate scientific evidence, is anybody's guess.

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