Differentiated differentiation: Using progressive regulation as a framework for special and differential treatment in the WTO
Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) is the WTO’s development tool to help its poor developing member-countries meet their trade treaty obligations and reap the gains of trade liberalisation. However, there is no criteria in the WTO for determining developing status, hence, leaving big economies like China and Brazil to self-declare as developing countries and claim SDT. This undermines the effectiveness of SDT to help the poorest countries with the transition to full compliance by according them certain flexibilities and special rights. Developed countries have signalled they would no longer give concessions to countries without being able to differentiate between levels of development. The thesis contributes important insights into how we may identify and establish objective and effective criteria that settle and depoliticize the questions of access to SDT and is flexible enough to track developmental needs. It contributes to enhancing the effectiveness of SDT in the WTO.