WTO Agreements contain special provisions which give developing
countries special rights and which give developed countries the
possibility to treat developing countries more favorably than other
WTO Members. These special provisions include, for example, longer
time periods for implementing Agreements and commitments or measures to
increase trading opportunities for developing countries.
provisions are referred to as “special and differential treatment”
The special provisions include:
- longer time periods for implementing Agreements and
- measures to increase trading opportunities for these
- provisions requiring all WTO members to safeguard the trade
interests of developing countries,
- support to help developing countries build the
infrastructure for WTO work, handle disputes, and implement
technical standards, and
- provisions related to Least-Developed country (LDC)
The WTO Secretariat has made several compilations of the special and
differential provisions and their use.
summary of the provisions (download
in MS Word format, 11 pages, 74KB) contained in the Uruguay
Round Agreements in favour of developing countries [Annex II of
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the Doha Declaration, member governments agreed that all special and
differential treatment provisions should be reviewed with a view to
strengthening them and making them more effective, and
the declaration (together with the Decision on Implementation-Related
Issues and Concerns) mandates the Committee on Trade and Development
to identify which of those special and differential treatment
provisions are mandatory, and to consider the legal and practical implications of making
mandatory those which are currently non-binding. In addition, the
Committee is to consider ways in which developing countries,
particularly the LDCs, may be assisted to make best use of special and
Declaration > Declaration
explained > The
Decision on implementation-related issues and concerns
Kong Ministerial Declaration (paragraphs 35-38)
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Sessions of the Committee on Trade and Development
1 February 2002, the Trade Negotiations Committee agreed that the
mandate from paragraph 44 of the 4th Ministerial Declaration should be
carried out by the Committee on Trade and Development (CTD) in Special
Sessions. The CTD meets in Special Sessions to examine the issue of
Special and Differential provisions.
Current chairperson of the CTD Special Sessions.
of the meetings are always issued after each Special Session of the
Committee on Trade and Development. They are called “the minutes”
of the meeting. These reports are generally available to the public
six months after they have been issued.
of the Special Sessions of the Committee
on Trade and Development use the code TN/CTD/* (where * takes additional values).
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by the Chairman to the Trade Negotiations Committee
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Main legal provisions
The Agreement Establishing the WTO
Establishing the World Trade Organization
(also known as “the WTO Agreement”, pdf format 144KB) in its chapeau cites sustainable economic
development as one of the objectives of the WTO. It also specifies that international trade should
benefit the economic development of developing and least-developed
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
Article XVIII (download in pdf format, 353KB), to be read in conjunction
with the Decision
on Safeguard action for Development Purposes (download in MS Word
format, 4 pages, 30KB) and the Declaration
on Trade Measures Taken for Balance-of-payments Purposes
(download in MS Word format, 7 pages, 19KB), both of 28 November 1979, and the
on the Balance-of Payments Provisions
of the GATT 1994 (download in MS Word format, 5 pages, 38KB), gives
developing countries the right to restrict imports, if doing so would promote the establishment or maintenance of a particular
industry, or assist in cases of balance-of-payments difficulties.
Part IV of the
GATT (download in pdf
includes provisions on the
concept of non-reciprocal preferential treatment for developing
countries — when developed countries grant trade concessions to
developing countries they should not expect the developing countries
to make matching offers in return. However, developing countries
claim that Part IV has been without practical value as it does not
contain any obligations for developed countries.
Enabling Clause for developing countries (goods)
Enabling Clause officially called the “Decision on Differential and More
Favourable Treatment, Reciprocity and Fuller Participation of
Developing Countries”, was adopted under GATT in 1979 and
enables developed members to give differential and more favorable
treatment to developing countries.
The Enabling Clause is the WTO legal basis for the
System of Preferences (GSP).
the GSP, developed countries offer
non-reciprocal preferential treatment (such as zero or low duties
on imports) to products originating in developing countries.
Preference-giving countries unilaterally determine which countries
and which products are included in their schemes.
The Enabling Clause is also the legal basis for regional
among developing countries and for the Global System of Trade
Preferences (GSTP), under which a number of developing
countries exchange trade concessions among themselves.
For more information about the GSP and the GSTP, see the
(opens in a new window).
General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) back
Article IV of the
GATS (download in
pdf format, 175KB) aims at increasing the
participation of developing countries in world trade. It refers,
among other things, to strengthening the domestic services
competitiveness of developing countries through access to technology
and improving their access to information networks.
allows developing countries
and countries in transition to restrict trade in services for
reasons of balance-of-payment difficulties.
Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
Rights (TRIPS) back
Article 66 of the
(download in pdf format, 194KB) provides
least-developed countries with a longer time-frame to implement all the provisions of the TRIPS Agreement and
refers to the provisions of technical
Going beyond legal provisions stated explicitly in WTO
agreements, actions in favor of developing countries, individually
or as a group, may also be taken under “waivers”
from the main WTO rules.
These waivers are granted by the General Council according to
procedures set out in Article
IX:3 of the Agreement Establishing the
(download in pdf format, 205KB). Recent examples of waivers include the EC/France Trading
Arrangements with Morocco, the United States' Caribbean Basin
Economic Recovery Act (CBERA), the Canadian Tariff Treatment for
Commonwealth Caribbean Countries (CARIBCAN), the United States'
Andean Trade Preference Act, and the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement
(on which were decisions were taken at the 4th Ministerial Meeting;
see WT/MIN(01)/15 and WT/MIN(01)/16).
The June 1999 General Council Decision
on Waiver regarding Preferential Tariff Treatment for
(download in MS Word format, 2 pages, 35KB) allows developing country members to provide
preferential tariff treatment to products of least developed
provisions for differential and more favourable treatment of
developing countries back