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Cotton-4 and the Cotton Subsidies Issue: A Litmus Test for the WTO’s Benefits to Least-Developed Countries

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image of The Journal of World Investment & Trade

The World Trade Organization’s primary purpose is to promote trade liberalization for the benefit of all its members. Being a self-enforcing trading system, the Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) is its central pillar. Despite critics praising the DSM for its efficiency, the aim of this article is to demonstrate that litigation is not always an option for the WTO’s least-developed members. Through a case study of the cotton issue this article will analyze the efficiency of the WTO for its least-developed members. Part I of the article will set out why the issue of cotton is the perfect paradigm to examine how the WTO’s agriculture trade liberalization can benefit its least-developed members. Part II will examine the Brazil-US Upland Cotton Dispute and shed light on its repercussions on a group called Cotton-4. Part III will discuss how Cotton-4 has tried to resolve the cotton issue through negotiations. Finally, part IV will provide least-developed members, such as Cotton-4, with ways around the power inequalities that limit them from fully benefiting from the WTO’s agriculture trade liberalization.

Affiliations: 1: B.Soc.Sc. & LL.B. (University of Ottawa) LL.M. (London School of Economics and Political Science) Qualified lawyer, Law Society of Upper Canada


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