WTO reform and capacity constraint of its developing members

ZHANG Xiangchen1 XU Qingjun1 WANG Jinyong1

(1.Permanent Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the World Trade Organization)

【Abstract】The issue of development has been an integral part of the multilateral trade negotiations and also an important aspect of the current WTO reform discussions. The S&DT (S&DT) for developing countries is at the core of the development issue, which deals with the relationship between preference-giving and preference-taking. By introducing some theoretical analysis frameworks, such as the theory of “incomplete contract” and “capacity poverty” theory into the multilateral trade negotiations, this article concludes that the essence of the development issue at WTO is the capacity constraint of developing countries: the insufficient capacity limits the extent of their capability to negotiate internationally and transform the negotiated outcomes into domestic economic development. Reviewing the capacity constraint and an array of economic and social indicators, China is still a developing country. The “rule deficits” should be properly tackled to promote multilateral trade negotiations on development. The capacity constraint of developing countries stems from the past negotiations of multilateral trade rules and is demonstrated in the implementation of those rules. As a result, the developing countries may, on a voluntary basis, make contributions that match their capacities to multilateral trade negotiations through transforming multilateral trade rules into domestic laws and regulations and further converting their capacity into a driving force and endogenous engine for their domestic economic and social development.

【Keywords】 WTO reform; development; capacity constraint; ability-based contribution;


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This Article


CN: 11-3799/F

Vol , No. 01, Pages 9-33+4

January 2019


Article Outline


  • Special column 1 Historical evolution of GATT/WTO multilateral development issues
  • Special column 2 The gains and losses of developing countries in the Uruguay Round
  • Special column 3 The gains and losses of developed countries in the Uruguay Round
  • Footnote