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Boustead Annual Globalisation Lecture University of Nottingham Malaysia The WTO and Developing Countries Policy Space Chris Milner School of Economics.

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Presentation on theme: "Boustead Annual Globalisation Lecture University of Nottingham Malaysia The WTO and Developing Countries Policy Space Chris Milner School of Economics."— Presentation transcript:

1 Boustead Annual Globalisation Lecture University of Nottingham Malaysia The WTO and Developing Countries Policy Space Chris Milner School of Economics and GEP University of Nottingham

2 The Policy Space Issue Criticism that WTO constrains or may in future constrain policy options and actions of developing countries –e.g. UNCTAD Trade and Development Report (2006), …the rules and commitments of the international trading regime restrict the de jure ability of developing nations to adopt national development policy. (p167) –might view any loss of choice and constraints on autonomy as undesirable –but, more typically an issue because presented as restricting use of heterodox policies (e.g. Rodrik, 2004)

3 Positive and Normative Issues How might the WTO constrain policy space in developing countries? Does (or will) the WTO constrain policy space in developing countries? Should WTO constrain developing countries policy space (and by how much)?

4 Some Context WTO commitments affect only trade and trade-related aspects of policy space Actual trade policy space affected by other institutions and agreements –unilateral (e.g. structural adjustment reforms) –bilateral ( e.g. ACP countries and Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU) –regional (e.g. membership of RTAs)

5 Potential WTO Influences on Policy Space Core rules of transparency, non- discrimination and reciprocity –binding of tariffs and lowering of MFN tariffs Constraints on instruments (e.g. NTBs, export subsidies) Recent disciplines on new and beyond border areas –services, TRIMs and TRIPs

6 Potential WTO Influences (continued) But also: –Exemptions to rules (e.g. regional integration, preferences for developing countries) –Differentiation of rules for developing countries (e.g. infant industries, balance of payments, export subsidies) –Safeguards and defensive measures allowed –Protection of national interest through dispute settlement mechanism and negotiating framework

7 Potential WTO Influences (continued) WTO rules seek to protect autonomy and enhance policy space, as well as constrain policy actions –defensive trade measures –protection of small countries through rules and dispute settlement –enhancing bargaining power through coalition activity –improving export opportunities through reciprocity and constraints on importing countries

8 Actual WTO Impact on Policy Space Membership of GATT/WTO has not had a major impact on bindings or tariffs of developing countries Other sources of tariff and NTB reforms (unilateral and regional) Very limited use of industrial and export subsidies




12 Actual WTO Impact (continued) Evidence of greater WTO influences on new members (e.g. Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam) –though most developing countries are already members –and membership is not compulsory! Concerns about future tightening and stricter implementation of rules –least developed countries exemptions from tariff- cutting requirement in Doha negotiations –negotiable!

13 Policy Space and First Principles Possible positions: –more trade policy choice is better than less? –WTO rules restrict heterodox options, with harmful effects? –there are positive net benefits from restricting the policy space?

14 More Policy Choice Is Always Better? Surely not – recall pre-trade reform conditions in sub-Saharan Africa –complex border taxation of imports –extensive use of NTBs –domestic firm entry restrictions –implicit and indirect taxation of exports –lack of transparency, pervasive rent-seeking, under-utilisation of capacity, and random and systematic distortions to resource allocation

15 Effective Protection by Sector: Burundi (1984) SECTORRANGE OF RATES % Agricultural Products-2 4 Food, drink and tobacco86 2017 Leather and footwear-4 102 Textiles12 124 Wood and paper products43 7896 Metal products16 Chemicals9 Pharmaceuticals1 Construction goods63 72 Source: Greenaway and Milner (1990)

16 Selective SSA Information on Pre- and Post Reform NTBs and Exchange Rate Distortions Pre-Reform (1) Post-Reform (2) CountryNTB CoverageBlack Market Premium (average) NTB Coverage Black Market Premium (average) Cameroonhundreds- - Cote dIvoire38%- - Ghana100%985%2%17% Kenya71%16%0%9% Madagascar100%37%0%13% Malawi100%51%Few12% Mali58%-0%- Nigeria100%210%17%27% Senegal--15%- South Africa55%0%23%3% Tanzania100%242%100%119% Uganda-303%5%79% Zaire100%71%100%9% (1) Various years, usually 1980s (2) Various years, usually early 1990s Source: Dean (1995)

17 Restricts Heterodox Options? Challenge the interpretation of some of the claims made for protection (e.g. in India) Question whether some of the heterodox success cases (e.g. South Korea) would still have been successful with more orthodox policies Doubt whether many of the least developed countries have the human capital and institutional capacity to implement the East Asian model

18 Net Benefits of Restricting Trade Policy Space? Avoids costs of excessive protection and poor intervention Brings benefits of greater openness (subject to sensible timing, sequencing, phasing and adjustment support measures) Enhances policy space (export market access) if reciprocated by other countries

19 Overall Assessment and Conclusions WTO has not significantly affected developing countries policy space to-date The effects (constraints and enhancements) may increase in future –but scope for phased or gradual affects and differentiation within WTO rules Many of the key pro-development issues are outside the WTO agenda –improving governance, institutions, human capital and infrastructure Countries want to join the WTO club!


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