WTO Special and Differential Treatment: Africa’s Golden Fleece or Trojan Horse?

Authors Jumoke Oduwole

ISSN: 2026-8556
Affiliations: Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos
Source: SADC Law Journal, The, 2013, p. 59 – 79


The Doha Development Agenda (Doha Round) heralded an historic negotiation pertaining to Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) for developing countries. The SDT accorded to developing countries under the WTO takes the form of exemption provisions for least-developed countries (LDCs) and developing countries to ensure proportionality in the commitments undertaken between industrialised members and developing country WTO members based on their different levels of advancement. The paper argues that the goal of African countries in Doha negotiations should remain the attaining of equality in outcomes from the application of the new trade rules. Furthermore, today, even emerging economies attempt to remain within SDT categories for purposes of WTO rules, in order to continue benefitting from the exemptions available to their so-called peers within the system. The writer contends that, if not properly structured and implemented, SDT provisions woven into trade rules could become a disincentive to the growth of African economies. This paper analyses the possible implication of SDT proposals currently being presented by African countries in the Doha Round. The objective of the paper is to stimulate informed policy contributions across the continent that may be applied in advancing and negotiating key SDT areas during the Doha Round and beyond.