Dan Ciuriak and Derk Bienen, June 2014

While rules of origin (ROOs) constitute an essential element of preferential trade agreements (PTAs), recent analysis of the utilization of preferences shows that even with liberal ROOs, utilization of preferences is often low, especially by smaller exporters. This reflects the high fixed cost component of demonstrating compliance with ROOs. In order to develop options for increasing the rate of preference utilization – especially by smaller exporters that might benefit most in terms of knowledge spillovers from entering into trade – we first examine different ROOs-related explanations of low preference utilization, in particular those based on exporters’ cost-benefit calculations in relation to compliance with ROOs. Second, we analyze the implications of low preference utilization rates for competition and welfare, which we argue are negative.

Derk Bienen, February 2014

When the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995, it had less than 130 members. Since then membership has expanded to 159 as a result of 31 completed accessions. Of these, only six were least developed countries (LDCs). Another 24 countries are currently at various stages of the accession process; among these, nine are LDCs. Thus, although it can be argued that the WTO is approaching universal membership, quite a bit remains to be done in terms of LDC accessions.

The purpose of this paper is to provide lessons for countries currently in the process of accession to the WTO, notably LDCs, based on the established practice and experience of other acceded countries. The paper does so by, first, providing a summary overview of WTO accessions and terms of accession of all countries that have acceded to the WTO under Article XII. It also considers recent changes in the WTO accession regime for LDCs, notably the enhanced Guidelines for WTO accession, and draws conclusions from these for the approach of LDCs to WTO accession.

Fantu Farris Mulleta, July 2013

An increasing number of countries have been supporting the extensive production and use of biofuels hoping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, ensure energy security and help the rural poor. While the validity of such policy goals is largely shared, many critics doubt that biofuels are the solution and rather question the environmental, social and overall developmental impacts of biofuel expansion and related government support to the sector.

This paper examines the role of each of the above three policy goals in driving the biofuel industry and analyses the developmental impact of biofuels especially on weak economies. It also critically addresses some recent developments and measures taken to ensure the social and environmental sustainability of biofuels.

Dan Ciuriak/Derk Bienen/Timothée Picarello, March 2013

A general argument in support of trade remedies is that they act as an insurance policy that allows countries to take on deeper commitments in trade negotiations than they would otherwise be willing to make.  This paper reviews both the negotiating history of major trade liberalization initiatives and the largely unexploited history of the use of so-called “grey area” measures in the pre-WTO era to manage pressures on domestic economies emanating from international trade to shed light on the extent to which this argument holds true.

Derk Bienen/Dan Ciuriak/Timothée Picarello, January 2013 (revised November 2013)

While antidumping laws were originally developed as the international trade analogue of domestic market competition or antitrust policies, most vestiges of competition policy measures disappeared early in their evolution. Nonetheless, the formal justification for modern antidumping practice remains founded on the bedrock of countering “unfair” trading practices and preserving competitive markets. Consistent with this formal rationale, antidumping law has been replaced by competition policy mechanisms in some instances, such as in the European Union’s internal market and in a number of bilateral free trade agreements.