In the 1990s mixed developments in the external environment affected developing countries' trade. On the one hand developed countries' GDP, an important determinant of the overall demand for developing-country exports, increased at a slightly lower rate than the long-term growth trends in these countries – just under 2.0 per cent for 1990–99 compared with 2.2 per cent in the 1980s and 3.0 per cent in the 1970s ( OECD, 2000). On the other hand, the market access conditions for developing countries improved, partly as a result of standstills and subsequent liberalization linked to the Uruguay Round agreements and reductions in tariffs following the information technology agreement.
The actual implementation of the Uruguay Round agreements, including the information technology agreement, had not been completed by the end of the period examined, but there is evidence that access to developed-country markets was improving in many respects. Nevertheless access continued to be impeded by high trade barriers in certain sectors, such as agriculture and textiles; and while progress was made on issues such as tariff escalation, the problem persisted in certain sectors, for example textiles and leather products. Finally, as part of the Uruguay Round agreements the WTO members committed themselves to take additional steps in favour of developing countries in areas such as antidumping, the implementation of which is important to review. 1