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ON THE LEFT: Efforts to ease path for LDCs


marciadottin, [email protected]

ON THE LEFT: Efforts to ease path  for LDCs

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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements contain provisions that give developing countries special rights. These are called “special and differential treatment” provisions. The ministers in Doha, at the fourth WTO Ministerial Conference mandated the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD) to examine these special and differential treatment provisions. The Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013 established a mechanism to review and analyse the implementation of special and differential treatment provisions.
The WTO agreements contain special provisions that give developing countries special rights and give developed countries the possibility to treat developing countries more favourably than other WTO members. These special provisions include, for example, longer time periods for implementing agreements and commitments or measures to increase trading opportunities for developing countries.
The special provisions include longer time periods for implementing agreements and commitments, measures to increase trading opportunities for developing countries, provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries, support to help developing countries build the capacity to carry out WTO work, handle disputes, and implement technical standards, and provisions related to least-developed country members.
On February 1, 2002, the Trade Negotiations Committee agreed that the mandate from the Doha Ministerial Declaration should be carried out by the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD) in special sessions.
Negotiations on special and differential provisions take place in the special session of the CTD. The negotiations have resulted in a number of decisions, such as those relating to least-developed countries contained in Annex F to the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration and the monitoring mechanism adopted at the Bali Ministerial Conference.
Reports of the meetings are always issued after each special session of the CTD. They are called “the minutes” of the meeting. These reports are generally available to the public six months after they have been issued.
In the Doha Declaration, member governments agreed that all special and differential treatment provisions are an integral part of the WTO agreements, and that these provisions should be reviewed with a view to strengthening them and making them more effective and operational.
More specifically, the declaration (together with the Decision on Implementation-Related Issues and Concerns) mandates the CTD to identify which of those special and differential treatment provisions are mandatory,
and to consider the legal and practical implications of making mandatory those which are currently non-binding. In addition, the committee is to consider ways in which developing countries, particularly the lesser developed countries, may be assisted to make best use of special and differential treatment.
The Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013 established a mechanism to review and analyse the implementation of special and differential treatment provisions.
The mechanism, which will take place in dedicated sessions of the CTD, will provide members with an opportunity to analyse and review all aspects of the implementation of special and differential treatment provisions contained in multilateral WTO agreements, ministerial and general council decisions – with the possibility to make recommendations to the relevant WTO bodies. This is aimed at either improving the implementation of reviewed provisions, or improving the provisions themselves through renegotiations.

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