Much has been made of "special and differential" treatment in the Doha Development Round of WTO negotiations. In particular, a conscious effort has been made to infer that special and differential treatment will promote development. While special and differential treatment may be a necessary evil given developing countries' higher adjustment costs, dignifying it as a development mechanism plays into the hands of protectionist interests. In particular, by allowing a general increase in the ability of developing countries to isolate their economies, it may reduce the efficacy of important forces that prod institutional reforms in developing countries. As institutional reform is one of the keys to economic development, lionizing special and differential treatment in the WTO is likely to be counterproductive.


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