Geneva - 2011


Briefing note: Small, Vulnerable Economies

Small, vulnerable economies (SVEs) are those WTO members that account for only a small fraction of world trade. They are particularly vulnerable to economic uncertainties and environmental shocks 1. WTO members recognize that SVEs, while not forming a official sub-category of members, face certain risks and agreed in 2002 on a Work Programme on SVEs in accordance with the Doha Declaration.

> Geneva 30 Nov. - 2 Dec. 2009
> Hong Kong 13–18 Dec 2005
> Cancún 10–14 Sept. 2003
> Doha 9–14 Nov. 2001
> Seattle 30 Nov.–3 Dec. 1999
> Geneva 18 & 20 May 1998
> Singapore 9–13 Dec. 1996

This Work Programme is carried out in dedicated sessions of the Committee on Trade and Development under a two-track approach endorsed by Ministers at the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference.

The first track focuses on the mandate given to the Working Group in paragraph 35 of the Doha Declaration to use the proposals made by the proponents of SVEs to frame responses to help small economies with their integration into the multilateral trading system. 

The second track calls for monitoring proposals made by small economy proponents in the negotiating groups and other bodies.  This includes tracking proposals in several areas of the DDA negotiations, mainly in Agriculture, NAMA, Services, Rules, including Fisheries Subsidies, Trade Facilitation, and in regular WTO bodies such as the Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. 

The proposals, decisions and reports made since the start of the Work Programme are compiled in document WT/COMTD/SE/W/22/Rev.6, issued in September 2011. This compilation provides a history of what SVEs have so far been able to achieve in the Doha Round.  The current draft agreements provide SVEs with some additional flexibilities that go beyond those for other developing countries.

In preparation for the WTO’s Eighth Ministerial Conference, SVEs have worked to ensure that the SVE Work Programme would be re-affirmed by Ministers. A decision to do so has been forwarded to the Conference in document WT/COMTD/SE/7/Add.1.



1. The term small, vulnerable economies “applies to Members with economies that, in the period 1999 to 2004, had an average share of (a) world merchandise trade of no more than 0.16 per cent or less, and (b) world trade in non-agricultural products of no more than 0.1 per cent and (c) world trade in agricultural products of no more than 0.4 per cent (TN/AG/W/4/Rev.4/ paragraph. 157)” Back to text