WTO Reform: Issues in Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT)

This paper evaluates the special and differential treatment provisions in the WTO Agreement and examines whether there is truth in the averment made by certain developed countries that special and differential treatment (S&DT) provisions have made the WTO framework of rules and disciplines asymmetrical. It comes to the conclusion that for the most part, the S&DT provisions in the WTO Agreement provide only minor to very minor benefits to developing countries and sometimes no benefits at all. The rule of less than full reciprocity in tariff negotiations did no doubt provide meaningful benefits in the past but, in the WTO era, the developed countries have sharply escalated the demand for reciprocity and the value of this provision stands very much diminished. In agriculture, although major benefits are provided to developing countries by way of S&DT, these were more than counterbalanced by the more significant advantages provided to developed countries