An Evaluation of the Terms of Accession to the World Trade Organization

A Comparative Assessment of Services and Goods Sector Commitments by WTO Members and Acceding Countries

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The relevant provisions for accession to the WTO do not provide an adequate legal basis for the process. Its inherent flaws have resulted in demands on acceding countries which are invariably onerous and bear little or no relation to their size, significance or development status. This book uses econometric tools to conduct a comparative assessment of commitments in the goods and services sectors. For the services sector, the authors find that at all three levels of services classification the commitments of postUruguay Round acceding countries far exceed those of their WTO member counterparts. In the goods sector, apart from the much greater binding coverage rate, the bound tariff rate for acceding countries is much lower than their WTO member counterparts. The book also provides country specific commitment comparisons after controlling for the level of economic development of the countries. In conclusion, the authors make brief recommendations for reform of the process of accession, in light of the costs incurred by applicant countries in the process.




When the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was replaced by the World Trade Organization (WTO) on 1 January 1995 as the institution overseeing the multilateral trading system, it was a landmark event that would influence world trade in goods and services in an unprecedented way. Unlike under the GATT, the WTO dispute settlement mechanism's reverse consensus rule means that the legal system of rules and procedures can be enforced through a system of punitive sanctions. With this newly incorporated mandate, there has been a profound change in the nature of the institution and, among other aspects, in the practice of accession to the new rules-based system.


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