World Trade after the Uruguay Round: Prospects and Policy Options for the Twenty-First Century

By Harald Sander; András Inotai | Go to book overview

4

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE URUGUAY ROUND FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Christopher Stevens
INTRODUCTION

The nature of the debate
The consequences of the GATT Uruguay Round for developing countries is a slippery subject to assess, and discussion on it tends often to result in unproductive mutual misunderstanding between the protagonists. There are several reasons for the wide-ranging nature of the debate.
• First, the Round has carried with it a substantial intellectual baggage. The text, although highly technical and detailed, is underlaid by a broad theoretical view of the role of trade in growth and development, and the appropriate role of the state in relation to trade. Discussion easily slips from the narrowly technical to the broadly theoretical and even ideological level.
• Second, the agreement is an exceedingly complex document (or, rather, set of documents) which will take a very long time to digest. The process of understanding precisely what was being agreed during the negotiations was complicated because of the high degree of secrecy in which they were conducted and the tendency of most protagonists to use public statements as a negotiating tool. Hence, many hopes and fears were engendered during the negotiations about what might transpire, and the task of checking whether or not the final agreements bear these out is still far from complete. In the meantime, unproductive debates rage between those who fear the worst, and assume that their concerns have not been adequately addressed until it has been demonstrated conclusively that they have, and those who expect the best, believing that potential problems have been dealt with until it can be shown that they have not.
• Third, there is considerable uncertainty as to how the contracting parties will implement what has been agreed on paper. The agreements provide many areas in which contracting parties have discretion over the speed or the extent of change. In addition, there is every reason to expect on past

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