Towards a New Age in Special and Differential Treatment
NCCR Trade Working Paper No 2011/58 by Javier Lopez Gonzalez, Maximiliano Mendez Parra, Peter Holmes
In this paper we provide a historical and political overview of the origin and evolution in Special and Differential Treatment (SDT). We suggest that the current applicability of such treatment to the self-selecting ‘developing country’ grouping is no longer coherent given the huge heterogeneity of its component countries. We aim to provide a justification for a more targeted approach to SDT that is geared towards the development needs of the most vulnerable countries. To this end, we propose the use of observable criteria, serving the purpose of identifying capacity constraints, to determine selection into SDT provisions. We provide a discussion of a methodological framework that can be applied on an issue-by-issue basis and that relies on the use of composite indicators. These are aggregated using ranked criteria and take on a weighted structure and a set of thresholds that arise though a negotiated process. The secondary objective of this paper is to re-launch the debate on the reform of a system which has appeared to lose its development focus.