Academic journal article The George Washington International Law Review

Neither Here nor There-Countries That Are Neither Developing nor Developed in the Wto: Geographic Differentiation as Applied to Russia and the WTO

Academic journal article The George Washington International Law Review

Neither Here nor There-Countries That Are Neither Developing nor Developed in the Wto: Geographic Differentiation as Applied to Russia and the WTO

Article excerpt


The WTO should adopt the following development policy:

(1) In granting Generalized System of Preferences (GSP)-type benefits, developed countries should provide either:

(a) GSP benefits to internal regions of countries not previously covered, so long as the region on its own qualifies as "developing" (through employment of the usual criteria), or

(b) "GSP-Plus" benefits to previously covered but relatively worse off regions within countries;

(2) Countries should be allowed to employ WTO developing country protections for internal regions, so long as the region alone qualifies as developing, even if the country, taken as a whole, is not allowed to employ the WTO protective devises because it is developed.

(3) Countries should be examined to determine whether the more developed regions within the country should be graduated, while the less developed regions continue to receive WTO developing country benefits.


The title of this Article suggests that there are countries that do not fall under the prevailing definitions of developed and developing country that are employed by the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO fails to take into account the special circumstances and needs of these countries. While such special circumstances and needs are diverse, this Article focuses on one facet: subnational geographic differential development. Geographic differentiation means that some countries, often the biggest non-developed countries, include regions that are highly developed, and some that are, in significant respects, economically less developed.1

Certainly there are other scenarios where countries may fall between the developed and the developing world thus making development policy less pointed or efficient or effective. For example, there are countries that have uniform conditions across the country, or, in other words, these countries do not exhibit noticeable geographic economic differential development, yet they are strong in some of the traditional development indicators and weak in others.2 This demonstrates that the WTO definitions of development are arbitrary and that classification of countries in this way does not take into account their individuality. Given the large number of developing countries-approximately one hundred-it is inconceivable that these countries would be similar or should be treated the same within the trade context.3 Perhaps a development policy that is more reflective of the differences among developing countries would be more successful. The Proposal in this Article regarding geographic differentiation concerns just one facet of the diversity that could be taken into account to produce a better development policy, both in terms of effectiveness and in terms of economic efficiencies.4

This Article's examination of the international trade system's development policy offers a proposal to resolve the issue of differential geographic development. The Proposal should be applicable within almost any trade and development policy, such as those developed over the course of the WTO Doha trade negotiations.5 The adoptability of the Proposal stems from the fact that it does not advocate a radical departure from current development policy, but instead recommends how development policies could be refined to be more effective.

Despite the fact that this Article's Proposal advocates a very modest change to the present WTO treatment of development, in so doing it will provide a critique of some of the underlying fundamental issues of international trade development policy. Additionally, and of more immediate relevance, it is hoped that this Article and its accompanying Proposal will contribute to the resolution of the many problems associated with Russian WTO membership accession.6 Indeed, the issue of geographic differential development first arose for me in the context of analyzing the issues that Russia will face over the next few years as it seeks membership in the WTO. …

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