Committee 2: WTO Member Classification and Differentiated Obligation

To provide the Applicants with the best possible and most relevant experience, the Model WTO has decided this year’s topic to be the Reform of the WTO as this topic has become more relevant in recent months.

Committee 2 

WTO Member Classification and Differentiated Obligation

Developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs) enjoy a special status in the WTO: The “special and differential treatment” provisions (S&D) in the WTO agreements grant developing countries special rights, including e.g. more time to implement the agreements, and commitments to increase the trading opportunities for developing countries. The difficulty is that while LDCs are defined by the UN, any country can declare itself a developing country without there being any definition criteria for this status. Additionally, all developing countries are treated equally, independent of their size, exports or GDP per capita.

These two factors lead to inequality between WTO members, especially as 60% of them classify as developing countries. Consequently, WTO members have called for a reform of the S&Ds. Suggestions include drawing up definition criteria or changing the S&D execution to a case-by-case system. Both suggestions give rise to multiple issues, including who should evaluate whether a country has the right to special treatment, whether different categories of developing countries should be established, and whether the criteria should be revised regularly, among others. The committee on developing countries will address these issues in a lively debate, with the aim to come up with revised S&D regulations.

Author of the Committees 2019:
Cara Stromeyer (cara.stromeyer@model-wto.org
)
Model WTO Head of Simulation Design