developing countries on account of World Trade Organization

Developing countries have generally been apprehensive in particular about the implementation of special and differential treatment provisions in various Uruguay Round Agreements. Full benefits of these provisions have not accrued to the developing countries, as clear guidelines have not been laid down on how these are to be implemented. A case in point is Article 15 of the Anti-Dumping Agreement, which explicitly says that “special regard must be given by developed country Members to the special situation of developing country Members” in applying such measures and that “constructive remedies provided for by this Agreement shall be explored before applying antidumping duties where they would affect the essential interests of developing country Members”. In actual practice, we have faced situations in which our products have been subjected to repeated anti-dumping actions and levy of provisional duties, creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and instability in the market, thus resulting in closure of smaller units and unemployment.

Another example is Article XVIII:B of GATT which provides for a special dispensation for developing countries in the institution and maintenance of quantitative restrictions on imports. This Article clearly lays down that quantitative restrictions may be imposed and maintained by a developing country “to ensure a level of reserves adequate for the implementation of its programme of economic development”. However, in actual practice we find that the development dimension is totally ignored while assessing the adequacy or otherwise of foreign exchange reserves, with the result that there is no distinction between Articles XII and XVIII. All developing countries are firmly of the view that development has to be brought back to the centre stage of WTO activities, as was intended by the Uruguay Round negotiators.

Another issue of deep concern is the trend towards unilateral action by certain developed countries in total disregard of provisions laid down in the Uruguay Round Agreements. We are forced, at great expense and considerable difficulty, to take such issues to the dispute settlement mechanism. Distinguished delegates are aware that developing countries and least-developed countries have to battle against resource constraints and shortage of skills and expertise in these areas. Such unilateral action, I have no hesitation to say, bring to disrepute the entire multilateral trading system which we have struggled to build over the years. This would necessarily slow down the impetus for reform in all developing countries.

There has also been an increasing trend in the recent past in favour of regionalism. While regional economic groupings have resulted in increased trade among countries in the region, there is inherent danger of discrimination against third countries. Article XXIV of GATT specifically recognises regional arrangements as an exception to the multilateral system.

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