Cambodia's WTO Accession
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Case Study #9-3 of the Program: ''Food Policy For Developing Countries: The Role Of Government In The Global Food System''
Since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995 with 128 members, an additional 21 countries have successfully acceded to the organization. On October 13, 2004, Cambodia became the WTO's 148th member, almost 10 years after it had first applied and just over a year after its membership package was approved at the Cancún Ministerial Conference. Cambodia is the second in the category of least-developed countries (LDCs) to join the WTO, following Nepal's accession on April 23, 2004. In its Protocol of Accession, Cambodia has taken on commitments in two major areas, including market access for imported goods and services and implementation of trade-related rules established in various WTO agreements. Cambodia agreed to bound its tariffs for all imported goods, eliminate export subsidies, allow foreign involvement in services, and apply trade-related rules either upon accession or at specified dates. Cambodia's WTO accession has raised a number of issues that might be of concern to existing WTO members as well as to other applicants. First, the vague definition of membership criteria in the WTO document has resulted in a complex and lengthy accession process. Second, countries seeking membership usually have to agree on higher obligations but limited rights, a phenomenon referred to as the WTO+ commitments and WTO– rights. Third, the special and differential treatment (SDT) provisions in various WTO documents were not executed fully in the recent accession cases. The existence of these issues has greatly hampered the process of integration of the LDCs to the world economy. A series of concrete steps must be taken to move the world trading system in a more pro-development direction. WTO legal documents should lay out detailed and transparent criteria for accession and make available specific provisions for LDCs compared with other applicants. Developed-country members should also exercise restraint in seeking concessions and commitments on goods and services from acceding LDCs and take into account those undertaken by existing LDC members. The role of SDT should be emphasized, and the SDT as set out in WTO agreements should be applicable to all acceding LDCs from the date of their accession. Accompanying the SDT, targeted and coordinated technical assistance and capacity building should be provided to acceding LDCs to cover all stages of the accession process. Taking into account the interests of the identified stakeholder groups, your assignment is to recommend how the accession process can be streamlined for least-developed countries.
12 pp.©Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. All rights reserved. This case study may be reproduced for educational purposes without express permission but must include acknowledgment to Cornell University. No commercial use is permitted without permission.
Cornell University Division of Nutritional Sciences
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Previously Published As
Fuzhi Cheng (2007). Case Study #9-3, ''Cambodia's WTO Accession''. In: Per Pinstrup-Andersen and Fuzhi Cheng (editors), ''Food Policy for Developing Countries: Case Studies.''12 pp.