Small States and the Multilateral Trading System

Overcoming Barriers to Participation

image of Small States and the Multilateral Trading System

Developing countries, including as small states and least developed countries (LDCs), continue to face significant challenges within the global trading system. Action is required to allow them to overcome disadvantages and achieve sustainable levels of income from trade.

This study provides a fresh perspective on how measures can be taken to enhance the participation of small states, many of which are Commonwealth countries, in the multilateral trading system. It contributes to the ongoing general debate about reforming the World Trade Organization and global trade governance.




What Do Small and Poor Developing Countries Need from the Multilateral Trading System?

The participation of small and poor developing countries in multilateral trade negotiations has given rise to a plethora of analyses and polemics about what can/ should/might be agreed and, implicitly, whose fault it will be when agreement is not reached. It is neither an attractive nor a particularly constructive position to be in, and certainly not one that fills the independent observer with much hope. This chapter takes a slightly different slant by going back to basics to ask a more fundamental question – what do small and poor developing countries need from a trading system? – and then working out from there what to make of the multilateral trade negotiations. Its purpose is not to create a shopping list or a negotiating position for World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations, but rather to help prioritise issues for the group of least-developed countries (LDCs) and to put into perspective what we actually end up with (which, of course, I am not attempting to predict). It is thus basically a normative exercise.


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