Market Access for LDCs under the Hong Kong Ministerial of the WTO : Outcomes for Bangladesh

Journal article


Islam, M Rafiqul and Khorseduzzaman, MD. (2006). Market Access for LDCs under the Hong Kong Ministerial of the WTO : Outcomes for Bangladesh. Journal of World Investment and Trade. 7(3), pp. 383-406. https://doi.org/10.1163/221190006X00234
AuthorsIslam, M Rafiqul and Khorseduzzaman, MD
Abstract

Members of the World Trade Organization are unequal. Few of them are developed, whereas most of them are developing and least developed countries (LDCS). The original General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) introduced a system of progressive liberalization of tariff barriers to industrial goods on a non-discriminatory basis. Open competition and reciprocal tariff concessions were the juggernauts of a freer world trading market. The system was engineered for the expansion of world trade in industrial goods of developed countries, not necessarily in response to epistemological considerations of the world economy. Most of the developing countries and LDCS did
not exist at all or had just achieved their independence from colonial rule in 1947. They had no or very little participation in the formation of GATT, which did not reflect their economic values, expectations, and interests. The partial coverage of GATT (only tariffs, not non-tariff barriers, with reductions for only industrial, not agricultural, products) proved too detrimental to their agro-based economies and too onerous for them to perform GATT obligations. The principle of non-discrimination itself became discriminatory for them, as it imposed artificial equality among unequal members and formal parity of obligations amidst gross economic disparity. Initially, GATT did not oblige its developed members to adopt any preferential policy to harmonize the marginalized position of developing countries in general and LDCS in particular.

This article examines the S&D provisions of the Hong Kong Ministerial in view of the specific commitments pledged for relieving the marginalized position of LDCS in
particular. In so doing, it critically analyses, among others, the market-access opportunities of LDCS to developed countries' markets. It reveals that such access is limited and riddled with conditions and caveats. Rampant protectionist trade policies and measures of developed countries against products of export interest to LDCs have been pushing LDCS to further marginalization and militating against the 2001 Doha Development Agenda (DDA). The Hong Kong Declaration has introduced a new trend of giving preferential treatment to some LDCS and not to others, thereby allowing developed countries to "divide and conquer" in order to reap the benefits of trade in their own favour. After sixty years of institutionalized trade liberalization, the system is yet to protect the legitimate trading interests of its most vulnerable members. The plight and dilemma of Bangladesh, once the leader of the LDCS, is highlighted and commented upon to show the continuing marginalization of LDCS in the post-Hong Kong era.

KeywordsWorld Trade Organization; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; Bangladesh; liberalization; Hong Kong Ministerial; market access; Doha Development Agenda
Year01 Jan 2006
JournalJournal of World Investment and Trade
Journal citation7 (3), pp. 383-406
PublisherBrill Nijoff
ISSN1660-7112
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1163/221190006X00234
Web address (URL)https://brill.com/view/journals/jwit/7/3/article-p383_.xml?ebody=article%20details
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range383-406
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online01 Jan 2006
Publication process dates
Deposited14 May 2024
Place of publicationNetherlands
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