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to the WTO and developing countries back to top
- Definitions of “developing countries” and “least-developed countries” in the WTO.
Understanding the WTO: Developing countries — overview
Special and differential treatment provisions back to top
Several provisions in the WTO agreements relate specifically to
developing and least-developed countries(LDCs). Certain of these provisions
are referred to as “special and differential treatment” provisions
The latest WTO document setting out the implementation of these S&D provisions is in WT/COMTD/W/196.
Ministers in Doha, in the Decision on Implementation-Related Issues
and Concerns mandated the Committee on Trade and Development
to identify those special
and differential provisions which are already mandatory, and
to consider the implications of making mandatory those which are
currently non-binding. The Committee was also asked to consider ways
in which developing countries, particularly the LDCs, 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 will provide members an opportunity to analyse and review all aspects of implementation of S&D provisions contained in multilateral WTO agreements, Ministerial and General Council decisions - with the possibility to make recommendations to the relevant WTO bodies.
> More on special and differential provisions
Least-developed countries in the WTO back to top
Least-developed countries (LDCs) are the poorest members of the world community. Among the 49 LDCs designated by the United Nations, 34 have become WTO members (see list) while another nine LDCs are at different stages of negotiations to join the WTO.
WTO agreements include provisions aimed at increasing LDCs’ trade opportunities and allowing LDCs flexibility in implementing WTO rules. A revised WTO Work Programme for LDCs (WT/COMTD/LDC/11/Rev.1), agreed by WTO members in June 2013, looks at systemic issues of interest to LDCs in the multilateral trading system.
The WTO Bali Ministerial Conference in December 2013 adopted several decisions in favour of LDCs, to further assist their better integration into the multilateral trading system. They include: multilateral guidelines on preferential rules of origin to facilitate market access for LDC products; a decision on duty-free and quota-free (DFQF) market access for LDCs calling upon members to improve their existing DFQF coverage; a decision in the area of trade in services initiating a process to help LDCs secure preferential market access for their services and service suppliers. In addition, a decision on cotton was adopted which aims at enhancing transparency and monitoring of trade-related as well as development assistance aspect of cotton
WTO bodies back to top
- WTO work related to trade and development takes place mostly in the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD), which meets regularly to address specific development issues, both as part of the WTO's regular work and as part of the Doha negotiations:
- The CTD also has a subsidiary
body to deal specifically with matters concerning the LDCs
Since the launching of the Doha Round in November 2001, trade and development issues related to special and differential treatment have been negotiated in the CTD meeting in Special Session.
WTO Working Groups were created during the Doha Ministerial Conference
in November 2001:
Other WTO bodies also consider trade and development issues.
Building trade capacity
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Helping developing countries participate more fully in the global trading system is one of the aims of the WTO.
The Aid for Trade initiative helps developing countries improve their capacity to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the multilateral trading system.
The WTO’s trade-related technical assistance activities provide training to officials from developing countries to support trade capacity-building.
The WTO also supports the Enhanced Integrated Framework – the Aid for Trade programme for LDCs.
on trade and development
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The WTO regularly organizes a number of special
relating to issues of particular importance to
developing countries each year.
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