Developing-Country Participation in the WTO
The capacity of the developing countries to promote changes to the system of rules governing international trade that will benefit their development depends very much on the effectiveness of their participation in the WTO. Such participation has two main aspects: involvement in the ongoing activities of the organization, including the reviews of the various agreements and the DSM; and participation in the multilateral trade negotiations organized under the WTO's auspices, including the preparatory processes leading up to the negotiations.
As noted earlier, throughout the 1960s and 1970s developing countries did not view GATT as an institution through which they could promote their interests in international trade. Their representation in GATT reflected the low priority they attached to it: many developing countries were not members, and of those that were, a large number did not maintain official representatives in Geneva, but instead used representatives based in other European capitals to cover GATT matters – in the case of the ACP countries, usually their missions to the EU in Brussels. Moreover their participation in GATT negotiations prior to the Uruguay Round was passive in that they did not engage in a significant way in the mutual exchange of concessions on a reciprocal basis ( Whalley, 1987).
Subsequently, however, their attitude towards participation in GATT (and later the WTO) changed significantly. Many developing countries played a very active role in the Uruguay Round negotiations, and a large number decided to become Members of the WTO. This attitude change was the result of a number of complex and interrelated developments. Developing countries in general became more effectively integrated into the international trading system, and several became major exporters of