Chapter 10: The WTO Agenda and the Developing Countries
Sam Laird* Since the Third Ministerial Meeting in Seattle in late 1999, members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have made relatively little progress in resolving the issues that caused the breakdown at that Meeting. Doha set a broad agenda for a comprehensive new round of trade negotiations but developing countries feel that it is ﬁrst necessary to address outstanding questions of implementation of the Uruguay Round. Divergences are such that it is unlikely that they will be resolved rapidly. Given the important changes that have taken place in trade and related polices in developing countries in the last 10–15 years, it is argued that developing countries have a strong interest in a relatively broad-based agenda provided that they can obtain both assurances that their concerns will be addressed and adequate technical assistance. 1. THE INTERESTS OF THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES Trade policy in the developing countries has changed in a major way since the mid-1980s. Under various lending programmes of the World Bank and the IMF, comprehensive macroeconomic and structural reform programmes were introduced across the developing world (Drabek and Laird, 1998). Trade policy reforms were a critical component in the reform packages, with many non-tariﬀ barriers being swept away, tariﬀs being rationalized and reduced to averages which, with some important exceptions, are generally in the range of 10–20 per cent, and measures being introduced to facilitate trade. There is still more to be done: tariﬀ peaks and escalation, anti-dumping procedures, licensing systems, local content plans and...
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