This study aims to present trade-related measures that can enhance industrial and economic activities in developing countries and that can be compatible with WTO rules. Based on lessons from WTO Trade Policy Reviews, it provides ways for policy makers to design appropriate trade policies and measures in conformity with their WTO obligations that can help in the achievement of their development objectives.
Trade policies and measures can be key tools to realise development in developing countries. The use of trade policies to diversify industry as well as create / add value is essential. Exports can increase incomes both for workers and government, they can also create jobs and lead to better living conditions for population. But it is important to pay attention so that the advantages of trade benefit the entire population in particular those vulnerable and marginalised.
Indeed, sometimes, imports can lead to local producers’ exclusion, and can increase inequalities. But when implemented appropriately, liberalisation allows to attract inputs technology and investment and improve infrastructures and productivity, essentials for development.
Governments must follow World Trade Organization (WTO) rules to design and implement trade policies and measures. The WTO Agreements are framing international trade, and many obligations fall upon WTO Members, including developing countries. Concerning export promotion for example, measures authorized are very limited. Export subsidies are generally prohibited, except for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as well as local content requirement and quantitative restrictions on imports. But, WTO rules still allow some governmental interventions related to trade such as selective subsidies for: domestic investment in research and development, regional development or activities to protect environment.
This study aims to present trade-related measures that can enhance industrial and economic activities in developing countries and that can be compatible with WTO rules. The goal is not to judge any agreement or rule regulating international trade, but to provide ways for policy makers to design appropriate trade policies and measures in conformity with their WTO obligations 1 Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, European Union, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Viet Nam, Zambia. The WTO Secretariat reports for the trade policy reviews of these that can help in the achievement of their development objectives.
To identify such trade-related measures, this research examined reports prepared by the WTO Secretariat for the trade policy reviews (TPRs) of 13 Members.1 Obviously the study cannot be regarded as comprehensive as all WTO Members are required to go through a periodic review of their trade policies. Moreover, it is possible that the Members have in place some measures that are not included in the Reports. Finally, the study does not attempt to evaluate the impact of the implementation of these measures though that will be a very useful exercise.
The study has been divided into five sections. After this brief introduction, the first section will focus on special economic zones, and will present the measures undertaken within these specific zones dedicated to enhancing economic growth and aiming at attracting investors, etc. The second section will present measures related to imports, the third section measures related to exports, and the fourth section will present measures about trade and industry in general. The last section will present measures under specific sectors that are particularly relevant for development, such as agriculture or services among others.
In each section, the measures have been presented in exactly the same words as they appear in the TPR report of that Member, giving the paragraph number in parenthesis. This should help the reader to verify as well as, if interested, go through further details by accessing the relevant part of the TPR report itself.
Finally, summary and examples of relevant measures have been provided at the end of each section.