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Cancún, Mexico - 2003


Recognizing small economies’ trade challenges

Small economies face specific challenges in their participation in world trade, for example lack of economies of scale or limited natural resources. Studies show that a small size is likely to limit an economy’s possibilities to diversify local production. This in turn makes it more difficult for small economies to adjust to changes in their trade policy regime.

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> Director-General’s letter to journalists
> The Doha Development Agenda
> Agriculture
> Services
> Market access, non-agricultural products
> Intellectual property (TRIPS)
> Trade and investment
> Trade and competition policy
> Transparency in government procurement
> Trade facilitation
> Rules: anti-dumping, subsidies
> Rules: regional agreements
> Dispute settlement
> Trade and environment
> Electronic commerce
> Small economies
> Trade, debt and finance
> Trade and technology transfer
> Technical cooperation
> Least-developed countries
> Special and differential treatment
> Implementation
> Members and accession
> Some facts and figures
> Jargon buster

The Doha Declaration back to top

The Doha Declaration mandates the General Council to examine these problems and to make recommendations to the next Ministerial Conference as to what trade-related measures could improve the integration of small economies.


Since then... back to top

The General Council instructed the Trade and Development Committee to hold dedicated sessions on small economies. The first of these took place in April 2002.

The discussions focus on a paper presented by a group of small economies (Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, in document WT/COMTD/SE/W/3). The paper includes the following proposals:

  • the liberalization process must preserve the existing margins of preference for products exported by small economies
  • small economies must not be required to give reciprocal treatment in return for the preferential treatment that they receive from developed members in the context of regional trading arrangements
  • small economies must not be required to make concessions that are inconsistent with their development, financial and trade needs

There is currently no definition in the WTO of what a “small economy” is. Some members have argued that a definition is necessary before any commitment is made. Other members do not want to embark on such an exercise.

Other material:
> Work Programme on Small Economies
> Doha declaration