Multilateral Trade Negotiations and LLDCS: A Handbook for Negotiators and Practitioners

The Project at A Glance

Multilateral trade negotiations began on a formal basis after the Second World War amongst a small group of countries. Trade negotiations, while primarily conducted for economic purposes, equally have political implications. Governments are concerned about the political as well as the efficiency consequences of trade policies. Thus, when negotiating trade agreements, governments aim to maximise national welfare as well.
International Economics Consulting Ltd. (IEC) assisted in the development of a handbook on trade negotiations to assist trade negotiators and practitioners in Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) in better understanding current provisions in multilateral trade agreements. The aim is to enhance the bargaining position of landlocked countries and the LLDC group in ongoing and future negotiations of multilateral agreements.

What We Found

In the context of international trade negotiations, there is a systematic and persisting bias against LLDCs as a result of the challenges pertaining to costs and transport times incurred from their landlocked nature. As such, the trade volumes of land-locked developing countries are comparatively lower than other countries while the cost of trade is significantly higher. Cross-border trade with LLDCs necessitates more procedures and takes more time due to the need for transit.
Aside from these challenges, LLDCs also face other obstacles that hinder their participation and competitiveness in the global economy. These include slow customs procedures, lack of implemented commitments in multilateral and regional agreements, weak institutional frameworks and uncertainty surrounding policies. Further initiatives must be undertaken to ensure an enabling business environment within such countries.

Our Strategy and Impact

The handbook’s primary objective was to give an overview of the multilateral trade negotiations, with a particular focus on the LLDCs. LLDCs need to adopt a “WTO strategy”. The strategy would reflect the country’s trade policy and incorporate the policies of the national government and the views of important stakeholders and representatives of society. The need to include a broad range of stakeholders is important as trade decisions have considerable ramifications on the economy and society. Thus, the main components of a country’s WTO strategy would include the areas where activities need to be undertaken in order to achieve the LLDC’s trade policy objectives. It can include multiple areas such as:

  1. Meeting the technical requirements
  2. Implementing commitments and obligations
  3. Establishing the priorities of participation and negotiations
  4. Establishing the framework of participation and negotiations
  5. Building human resources

Once a WTO strategy is established, key stakeholders should contribute to the negotiations. Moreover, the analysis should also be conducted to establish the priority areas of interest and the best alternatives to a negotiated agreement. LLDCs should also focus on building a cohesive position in areas where LLDCs have an interest in cooperating. Once, these are accomplished, LLDCs can be better equipped to participate in international negotiations.

Our Core Solutions

With the rapid proliferation of trade agreements worldwide, there are new market and investment opportunities for countries to explore. We prepare clients to navigate trade and investment negotiations and advocate for their best interests. We also provide customised advocacy solutions for sustainable growth. From determining our clients’ specific requirements and interests to designing an effective strategy, we represent and advocate for our clients in various trade-related matters and facilitate coordination between different organisations.

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