Global Trade Preference Reform Working Group (April 2009 – April 2010)

September 10, 2014

CGD convened the Global Trade Preference Reform Working Group in 2009 to examine existing programs and identify areas for improvement. The group launched its final report, Open Markets for the Poorest Countries: Trade Preferences That Work, in April 2010. The report offers several practical recommendations to make trade preference programs work for development: extend trade preferences to all exports from all least developed countries; relax or remove overly restrictive program rules, especially rules of origin; and make programs permanent or long-lasting. CGD is disseminating the report to trade officials, policymakers, and members of the advocacy community in the U.S. and abroad in the hope of accelerating positive policy change.

Membership & Composition

CGD senior fellow Kimberly Ann Elliott is the working group chair. Other members of the working group, who participate in their personal capacity and on a voluntary basis, are from academia and the public, private, and non-profit sectors in developed and developing economies.


Kimberly Ann Elliott, Center for Global Development


Mehmet Arda, Galatasaray University, IIBF 

Johanna Cowan, UK Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills

Reform/Department for International Development 

Antoni Estevadeordal, Inter-American Development Bank 

Eveline Herfkens, UN Millennium Development Goals Campaign 

Bernard Hoekman, World Bank 

Angela Hofmann, Wal-Mart 

Behnaz Kibria, Unaffiliated 

Peter Kleen, European Centre for International Political Economy 

Gawain Kripke, Oxfam America 

William C. Lane, Caterpillar, Inc. 

Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) 

Pradeep S. Mehta, CUTS International 

Andre Nassar, ICONE, Institute for International Trade Negotiations 

Susan Prowse, Overseas Development Institute 

Vijaya Ramachandran, Center for Global Development 

Randall Soderquist, Unaffiliated

Shujiro Urata, Waseda University 

Ann Weston, The North-South Institute

Working Group Objective and Approach

The Working Group primarily focused on identifying priorities for preference program reform. In addition, the Working Group considered the incentives, governance capabilities, and financing mechanisms that could plausibly move the world towards greater market access for poor countries. Specifically, the Working Group sought to answer questions such as:

  • Can 100 percent Duty-Free, Quota-Free (DFQF) access for all low-income developing countries (LDCs) be achieved in the United States, Japan, and other rich countries that have not yet done so? How about with adjustments for quota-controlled agricultural products?
  • Should the group receiving DFQF be expanded beyond just LDCs?
  • How should quota-controlled agricultural products be treated? Is quota-free preferred? If so, is it possible? What would a sensible safeguard look like?
  • Can/should rules of origin be further improved and harmonized across major countries, including the emerging market programs?
  • How can concerns over preference erosion be prevented from impeding multilateral liberalization?
  • Is there a concrete proposal for aid-for-trade that makes sense in the context of a preferences reform proposal? Should it address compensation and adjustment assistance issues, supply-side capacity constraints, or both?