Making the development
round a reality
Secretary of State for International Development, UK
Developing countries continue to join the system of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in large numbers. There were 57 in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1979 at the end of the Tokyo Round, 68 in 1988 at the start of the Uruguay Round, and 98 in 1994 at the end of the Uruguay Round; today over 100 of the total membership of 138 are developing countries. Some 30 or so other developing and transition countries have applied for accession, including China.
Given this weight of numbers, developing countries have the opportunity to press for multilateral trade rules that are fashioned to their liking and to ensure that future trade negotiations in the WTO yield agreements that are in the interest of development. Despite the diversity of their circumstances and commercial interests, they have it in their power to make common cause for their collective good.
This chapter looks first at why trade is important in development and why trade policy needs to be high up in the order of decision makers' priorities. Turning then to the multilateral trade system, it looks at how developing countries have come to exercise an increasingly decisive influence in the WTO, and at some of the opportunities that this offers them as they adjust to the pace of change in the global economy. The prospect of a new round of trade negotiations makes decisions on how to seize these opportunities urgent. Some