Access to other countries’ markets represents an important opportunity for LDCs, as it provides revenue and foreign currency reserves.1 For LDCs these are often critical in order to generate revenue to pay for imports. This issue is one which has long been discussed in the GATT and the WTO. The ability of the LDCs to have complete and unrestricted market access to all countries’ markets would represent full internalization of the norm of special treatment for LDCs in trade terms. However, the fact that the norm has not yet been fully internalized is demonstrated by the fact that LDCs still do not have full duty-free and quota-free access to all WTO members markets despite progress in this area. This case study will focus on attempts within the GATT and the WTO to improve market access for LDCs’ products.2 In examining the GATT, the focus will be on the early GATT days and on the discussions of market access in the GATT’s Sub-Committee on Trade of LDCs. Within the WTO, the focus will be on discussions at the LDC SubCommittee meetings and various ministerial meetings, most notably those held in Singapore and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Ministerial was a key landmark as agreement was reached that ‘at least 97 per cent of products originating from LDCs’ would be accorded duty-free, quota-free access by the developed country members of the WTO, and those developing countries able to do so (WTO, 2005s: Ann. F, page F-1). The decision is important for three reasons, first it set a minimum figure for LDC access to foreign markets; second, it specifically involved other developing countries in assisting LDCs; and importantly this treatment has not been provided to any other category of WTO member or negotiating group.
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- Case Study 2 — Benefiting from Trade: Market Access and LDCs
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