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Developing Countries in the WTO Legal System$
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Joel P. Trachtman and Chantal Thomas

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195383614

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195383614.001.0001

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The GATS and Developing Countries

The GATS and Developing Countries

Why Such Limited Traction?*

Developing Countries in the WTO Legal System

Bernard Hoekman

Oxford University Press

With the exception of basic telecommunications, very little progress has been made to date in using the GATS framework to lock in unilateral reforms that have already been implemented, let alone in inducing new liberalization. Developing countries have resisted expanding their specific commitments. Instead of quid pro quo bargaining, traditional S&D treatment has become more prominent. This chapter raises the question: Why such limited traction? The basic argument is that in the services context, the power of standard reciprocity is constrained and that there is a stronger case for S&D treatment of developing countries. However, the form this S&D treatment should take is not the standard GATT form that was criticized by Hudec. Instead, what is needed is to provide greater assurances that the preconditions for benefiting from services liberalization have been put in place. This is necessary for reciprocity to be able to work. These preconditions are largely regulatory in nature. This suggests, therefore, that what may be needed is to complement the WTO with mechanisms to assist governments design and implement regulation and to monitor the effects of applied policies, both liberalization and regulation.

Keywords:   GATT, developing countries, reciprocity constraints, trade liberalization, international trade

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