Effective Market Access for Least Developed Countries’ Services Exports

An Analysis of the World Trade Organization Services Waiver for Least Developed Countries

image of Effective Market Access for Least Developed Countries’ Services Exports

The LDC Waiver is a legal tool that enables WTO Members to sidestep their obligation to treat all services imports equally under the Most-Favoured Nation (MFN) clause through the granting preferential treatment to services and service exporters from a Least Developed Country (LDC). It is similar to the “Enabling Clause” for goods within the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), except that the Waiver only benefits LDCs, not all developing countries. It operates thus as an “LDC-only Enabling Clause for services”. The Waiver only enables preferences, it does not require WTO Members to grant them, nor provide them with specific ideas or tools to facilitate LDCs’ exports into their markets. Four country specific papers related to service exports in Cambodia, Nepal, Senegal and Zambia were undertaken with a view to help identify, design and implement smart mechanisms to facilitate LDCs’ services exports. This paper draws upon the insights and findings of those four country papers to provide a condensed overview that will help LDCs increase their services exports.



Services, least development countries’ exports, and their services waiver as one of many tools

The 2011 WTO Ministerial decision on “Preferential treatment to Services and Services Suppliers of Least-Developed Countries” (WT/L/847) allowed importing countries to grant preferential treatment to services and services suppliers from LDCs. It marked what was previously a niche topic at best: LDCs as services exporters as such, and the potential of LDCs’ services exports to contribute to growth and economic development.


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