EU proposals on Special and Differential Treatment
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CTA. 2003. EU proposals on Special and Differential Treatment. Agritrade, January 2003. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/52517
The European Commission has tabled a set of...
The European Commission has tabled a set of proposals to strengthen 'special and differential treatment' for developing countries. The areas covered include: streamlining and simplification of procedures for the accession of least developed countries to the WTO; measures to support developing countries in meeting sanitary and phytosanitary standards; improving technical assistance for developing countries in areas such as customs and technical barriers to trade and trade in services; ensuring the participation of at least one panellist from a developing country in disputes between a developing and a developed country; simpler notification procedures for least developed countries; clarifying the WTO rules applicable to regional trade agreements when these involve developing countries. In addition the Commission maintains that 'special and differential treatment' is needed across the whole of the negotiating agenda, particularly with regard to ensuring greater access for developing country exports within the framework of increased differentiation between developing countries. The EU also supports the extension of EBA style initiatives to LDCs by other OECD countries and the more advanced developing countries. Through its proposals the Commission is placing emphasis on avoiding the creation of a two-tier system of WTO rules 'in which developing countries would be second-class members' and on promoting measures which promote rather than restrict trade. In its submission the European Commission acknowledges that progress in elaborating SDT measures has not been as rapid as it ought to have been, but points out that some proposals are fairly controversial requiring 'major changes in WTO agreements' which have 'major systemic implications'. The Commission also expresses concern that some of the problems identified as requiring SDT measures are more related to domestic policy shortcomings rather than weaknesses in the rules of the world trading system. Overall the European Commission wants to see SDT provisions allowing flexibility in the implementation of existing rules rather than the creation of new rules. The EU wants to see decisions taken in a number of areas before the end of 2003, most notably with regard to: the degree of flexibility under Article XXIV; ensuring that SPS measures do not create unnecessary barriers to trade; greater flexibility with respect to preferential rules of origin. The BRIDGES Weekly Digest for December 20th 2002 reported a failure to close the gap in positions on special and differential treatment, despite eight days of negotiations and a marathon session on December19th. Comment: The European Commission emphasis on SDT provisions which allow flexibility in the application of existing rules rather then the creation of new rules does not bode well for ACP proposals for a joint ACP-EU initiative in the WTO. The ACP hopes that the EU will join it in a proposal to modify existing provisions on regional free-trade area agreements in order to establish rules which more effectively accommodate the realities of free trade between groups of least developed and developing countries on the one hand, and a developed trading bloc like the EU on the other.