More Differentiated Special Treatment in the Agriculture Agreement: Beyond Concept to Practice

21 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006

See all articles by Alan Matthews

Alan Matthews

Trinity College (Dublin) - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 2006


This paper examines how more differentiated special treatment of developing countries might be introduced into the WTO agriculture agreement following the Doha Round negotiations. The purpose of special treatment is to facilitate developing countries to meet their food security, rural development and livelihoods concerns. The paper first reviews previous attempts to classify developing countries into food-insecure and food-secure groups. It argues that such a classification is mainly relevant in the market access pillar of the negotiations, as other criteria for differentiation are implicit in the July 2004 Framework Agreement proposals for the domestic support and export competition pillars. The prospects for an overall agreement are limited unless developed countries feel that they have gained improved access to the markets of the more advanced and competitive agricultural exporters among developing countries. The paper argues that the latter countries might be persuaded to accept shallower SDT if it is the condition for a significant market-opening offer by developed countries. In addition, the developed countries need to build support among low-income developing countries for differentiation by making clear what a more generous SDT offer to food-insecure developing countries not currently classified as LDCs would mean.

Keywords: WTO agricultural negotiations, special and differential treatment

JEL Classification: F13, Q17

Suggested Citation

Matthews, Alan, More Differentiated Special Treatment in the Agriculture Agreement: Beyond Concept to Practice (January 2006). IIIS Discussion Paper No. 108, Available at SSRN: or

Alan Matthews (Contact Author)

Trinity College (Dublin) - Department of Economics ( email )

Dublin 2
+00353 1 896 1069 (Phone)
+00353 1 677 2503 (Fax)


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