Make Extortion History

The Case for Development Friendly WTO Accession for the World’s Poorest Countries

Published: 24 October 2005

Until now, the process for dealing with candidates for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been one of extorting the maximum number of concessions out of all applicants. As a result, some of the poorest countries in the world now have more onerous WTO obligations than the richest.

The 2002 WTO Decision on the Accession of Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) was intended to improve the process for these countries, but there is, as yet, no sign that it is influencing the negotiations. Vanuatu’s application for membership, stalled at its own request since 2001 because of the harsh terms on offer, represents an opportunity for the WTO and its members to turn rhetoric into action.

Now is the time for the WTO and its members to take steps to honour their commitment to help LDCs to join on terms that are appropriate to their level of development.