Special and differential treatment in the WTO: Its content and competence for facilitation of development
Trade has inherent economic virtue, which is thought to be an important mechanism for the development of the world. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) tries to introduce a new era of global economic cooperation through a fairer and more open multilateral trading system for the benefit and welfare of the people of its Members. Considering these facts, this trading system strives to introduce a principle where the conduct of international trade is based on cooperation rather than competition. The simple reason is that participating trading members are unequal and there cannot be any fair competition among unequal competition under identical conditions. Therefore, the Agreements of the WTO recognize the link between trade and development and contain special provisions for developing countries to combat the growing global economic challenges. These Agreements contain provisions which give developing countries special rights. These are called ‘Special and Differential Treatment’ (SDT) provisions. Special and differential treatments for developing countries allow justifiable deviation from obliging the basic principle of WTO i.e. the Most Favored Nation’s (MFN) treatment. Research and discourse on SDT shows two types of purposes are seen for SDT directed at developing countries: to help development and to help the international system by easing the integration of developing countries into it. This paper will give most emphasis on the development agendas of developing countries because the purpose of SDT as to help developing countries integrate into the trading system is based on an assumption that an effective regulatory system is itself an important tool for development, and as such need not be considered a separate purpose.
Key words: World Trade Organisation, International Economic Law, Development, SDT