Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT)

   Since before the fourth Doha Ministerial Conference, developing countries had called for a review of all special and differential treatment provisions contained in the WTO agreements with the objective of strengthening them and making them more precise, effective and operational.

   There are 88 such proposals specific to various WTO Agreements. Accordingly, all the 88 Agreement-specific proposals were divided into three broad categories.The document JOB(03)/68, dated 7 th April 2003 describes the division of the agreement specific proposals into three categories .

  • Category I contained 38 proposals comprised of the 12 proposals on which Members had agreed in principle, and 26 other proposals on which there appeared to be a greater likelihood of making recommendations and which appeared to have a greater developmental value.
  • Category II comprised of 38 proposals, 27 of which had been made in areas on which mandated negotiations were ongoing, and 11, the operative part of which was being considered in the respective WTO bodies.
  • Category III contained 12 proposals on which there appeared to be a wide divergence of views, and on which progress did not seem possible without a certain degree of redrafting of the original text.
  • Agreement was reached on 28 of the above mentioned 88 proposals before the Cancun Ministerial in 2003. However developing countries felt that the ensuing economic benefits were negligible and they were not harvested.
  • Agreement was reached on five proposals at Hong Kong that relate to the LDC duty free quota free market access for all products, expeditious waivers for LDCs, the Enabling Clause, the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures and the Decision on Measures in Favour of Least-Developed Countries. In addition, some work has also been done on the remaining Agreement-specific proposals, beginning with those tabled by the African Group.
  • BREAK UP OF 88: 38 were in Category II and dealt with by respective bodies. Leaving 50. At Cancun 27 were agreed upon in principle but not harvested. Leaving 23. Five LDC proposals were agreed upon in Hong Kong, leaving us with 18. Of these 18 two pertained to the expired, textile and clothing agreement. Of the remaining 16, eleven were proposals by African Countries and five from other developing countries which constituted the work programme of the CTD SS in 2006 but no progress was made due to the suspension in negotiations in July 2006.

 

    Pakistan’s position:

   In the initial stages, we took keen interest in these issues. However, over the past 2-3 years, we realized that there is not much of economic interest in these proposals for Pakistan. Therefore, we shifted our focus from these issues to market access issues of Agriculture, Non-Agricultural Market Access and Services. Nevertheless, we are keeping a close watch to get what could be of our interest and to block those issues which may have a negative impact.

   Remaining proposals of interest to Pakistan:

   In the remaining proposals with the CTD SS according to an exercise conducted by the Mission in September 2005, proposal 24 pertaining to the SPS agreement is of interest to us. In Category III two proposals 77 (understanding on article 2.1) and 83 (operationalising article 12.3 of TBT) are of interest to us. Other proposals of interest to Pakistan fall in category II and are with the respective bodies and not with the CTD SS. Proposal 39 is on RTAs, proposal 41 on Art 6.2 of AOA, proposal 42 is that SPS measures shall not be used as disguised restrictions on trade; proposal 45 is Art 15 of antidumping agreement, proposal 46 is on subsidies Art 3.1 b and Art 27.3 and calls for removal of time bound derogation in art 27.3 , proposal 68 regarding article 9.2 SPS…change ‘shall consider providing tech facilities to ‘shall provide’ and proposal 73, article 9.1-2 of Safeguards Agreement.

 

    Other issues in the CTD :

    Systemic and institutional cross-cutting issues. These include:

  • Principles and objectives of special and differential treatment.
  • Definition of a developing country.
  • Pros and cons of a single or multi-tiered structure of rights and obligations.
  • Universel vis-à-vis differentiated treatment and Concept of Graduation.

   Significant differences amongst Members on most of the cross-cutting issues.

  • Most of the developed country Members feel that these are important and fundamental issues which need to be examined in greater depth and which could contribute to finding a solution to some of the issues raised in the proposals.
  • The developing country Members question whether these issues are within the mandate of the Doha Ministerial Declaration. They have also expressed very strong reservations about some of these issues, especially relating to the definition of, and differentiation amongst, developing countries.

 

   Monitoring mechanism.

   In July 2002, the General Council agreed to establish a Monitoring Mechanism for special and differential treatment. Special Session of the CTD was to elaborate, for the Council's approval, the functions, structure and terms of reference of such a Mechanism. A number of new submissions were introduced, and possible elements relating to the establishment of the Monitoring Mechanism discussed e.g the structure and possible role of the Mechanism and the sources of the information it should use to conduct its work. Difference of opinion, remained on the institutional structure of the Mechanism and the timing for its coming into force.

   The general view is that it should be an open-ended body. Some Members believe that the monitoring of special and differential treatment should be carried out in the regular sessions of the CTD, or by the CTD in sessions dedicated exclusively to the issue, while other Members are of the view that a Sub-Committee of the CTD should be established for this purpose. However this subject has not been discussed during 2006 till the suspension of the negotiations in July 2006.