The 'Development' Discourse in International Trade Lawmaking

32 Pages Posted: 20 May 2015 Last revised: 26 Nov 2018

See all articles by Nicolas Lamp

Nicolas Lamp

Queen's University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: May 19, 2015


The impact of the idea of “development” in international trade lawmaking is often reduced to the principle of “special and differential treatment”, which exempts developing countries from certain obligations imposed by the trading regime. The article shows that “development” has always presented a much wider challenge to the vision of the trade regime championed by the major trading nations. The development discourse has conceived the trade regime’s historical significance, the regime’s aims, and the relationships among its members in ways that were often fundamentally at odds with the conception preferred by most developed countries. The article explores how the development discourse has informed lawmaking initiatives by developing countries throughout the history of the trade regime. While not all of these initiatives were successful or necessarily fruitful, they show that the development discourse in trade lawmaking has always been more than an effort to seek exemption from trade rules.

Keywords: GATT, WTO, developing countries, history, development, differentiation

Suggested Citation

Lamp, Nicolas, The 'Development' Discourse in International Trade Lawmaking (May 19, 2015). World Trade Review 16(3), 2017, 475-500, Available at SSRN: or

Nicolas Lamp (Contact Author)

Queen's University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Macdonald Hall
Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6 K7L3N6

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