Pacific Pause: The Rhetoric of Special & Differential Treatment, the Reality of WTO Accession

45 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2009 Last revised: 6 Aug 2010

See all articles by Andrew D. Mitchell

Andrew D. Mitchell

University of Melbourne - Law School

Joanne E. Wallis

University of Cambridge - Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

Date Written: September 21, 2009

Abstract

Tonga in 2006 and Vanuatu in 2001 suspended the process of their accession to the WTO just before they were set to join the organisation. Given the length and cost of the accession process, the decision of these countries to suspend their accession is both surprising and unique in the history of the WTO. This article examines certain key problems arising from the WTO accession process in connection with development needs in the Pacific. In particular, it considers the potential barriers and benefits that Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as Tonga, Vanuatu, and Samoa encounter when joining the WTO. In light of the benefits that these states could receive from WTO membership this article then examines potential reasons why Tonga and Vanuatu suspended their accession. The first reason is the demanding and lengthy nature of the accession process itself. The second is the limited way in which the principle of “special and differential treatment” operates in practice. The article concludes with a discussion of potential reforms to the WTO that could address the problems facing SIDS that wish to join the organisation.

Keywords: WTO, Accession, Tonga, Vanuatu, Samoa

JEL Classification: K00, K33, K39, K49

Suggested Citation

Mitchell, Andrew D. and Wallis, Joanne E., Pacific Pause: The Rhetoric of Special & Differential Treatment, the Reality of WTO Accession (September 21, 2009). Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 663-706, 2010; U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 424; Georgetown Law and Economics Research Paper No. 10-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1476153 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1476153

Andrew D. Mitchell (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia
+61383441098 (Phone)
+61393472392 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unimelb.edu.au/staff/Andrew%20Mitchell

Joanne E. Wallis

University of Cambridge - Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) ( email )

First Floor, 17 Mill Lane
Cambridge, CB2 1RX
Great Britain

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