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9 J. Int'l Trade L. & Pol'y 5 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/jitlp9 and id is 1 raw text is: The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/1477-0024.htm
Developing countries in the ITO ITO and GATT
and GATT negotiations                                                           negotiations
James Scott
Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester,                                       5
Manchester, UK
Abstract
Purpose - The literature examining the participation of developing countries in the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and International Trade Organisation (ITO) negotiations
generally sees their attitudes towards these projects as having been driven exclusively by a
commitment to import substitution. This commitment, it is argued, led developing countries to oppose
many aspects of the GATT/ITO project, particularly the requirement for reciprocal tariff cuts. The
purpose of this paper is to focus on examining the critical period around the ultimately doomed
negotiation of the Charter for an ITO and the process of creating the GATT.
Design/methodology/approach - This paper draws from GATT documents and from the
literature on economic history to give a more comprehensive account of the motivating ideas
underpinning developing countries attitudes to the post-war negotiations.
Findings - This paper argues that this view misconstrues and caricatures the ideas and motivations
underpinning developing countries' attitudes towards the GATT and ITO. Though import
substitution and the related objective of industrialisation each played a part in shaping developing
countries' attitudes, they are only aspects of a more complex set of aims and ideas. Developing
countries were drawing from a range of key experiences and ideas beyond simply import substitution
in forming their attitude towards the GATT/ITO project, in particular the volatility in commodity
markets that preceded the negotiations, the legacy of colonialism and the lessons provided by the
ninetieth and twentieth centuries on trade policy. Finally, this paper argues that the first round of
GATT negotiations shows that developing countries were substantially less opposed to reciprocal
tariff concessions than has previously been argued.
Originality/value - These findings are important for anyone who wants to understand the
evolution of the GATT and the role developing countries played in it, and the difficulties between the
rich and poor nations that continue to characterise negotiations in the World Trade Organisation.
Keywords Developing countries, Tariffs, Trade, World economy
Paper type General review
Introduction
Much of the literature on developing countries in the General Agreement on Tariffs and
Trade (GATT) argues that developing countries' behaviour in the GATT was driven
by a commitment to import substitution and a demand for special and differential
treatment (SDT). The precepts of import substitution are seen as having underpinned a
desire by developing countries to evade commitments to tariff reductions and a refusal
to engage in reciprocal tariff bargaining. Furthermore, due to their misguided focus
on import substitution developing countries are generally seen as having opted not to
participate in the GATT, demanding instead SDT provisions to escape GATT               Journal of International Trade Law
obligations. Elsewhere, with Rorden Wilkinson, I have shown that this characterisation                and Policy
Vol. 9 No. 1, 2010
of developing countries' actions in the GATT does not do justice to the extent to which                 pp. 5-24
developing countries participated in the GATT's activities (Author, 2008). In the © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
present paper, the focus is on examining the critical period around the ultimately       DOI 10.1108/14770021011029582

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