Special and differential treatment under WTO – UPSC Prelims

Special and differential treatment (S&DT) under WTO:
WTO agreements contain special provisions which give developing countries special rights and allow other members to treat them more favourably. These are called “special and differential treatment provisions”. These special provisions include:
  • Longer time periods for implementing agreements and commitments
  • Measures to increase trading opportunities for these countries
  • Provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade interests of developing countries
  • Support to help developing countries build the infrastructure to undertake WTO work, handle disputes and implement technical standards.
  • Provisions related to least-developed country (LDC) members
What is the problem with S&DT under WTO?
  • Currently, any WTO member can designate itself as a developing country and avail S&DT  benefits.
  • As a result of the self-selection process, there is a competition among members to get the developing country status.
  • Several advanced countries have also taken developing country status.
  • US had submitted its suggestions to the WTO that self-declaration puts the WTO on a path to failed negotiations, and it is also a path to institutional irrelevance.
  • However, India is of the view that the matter needs to be negotiated comprehensively in the WTO and a consensus-based decision needs to be taken on S&DT.
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