Differentiated Differentiation in the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement

Aniekan Ukpe, Sangeeta Khorana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement (CVA), the paper demonstrates the operationalization of differentiated differentiation – an implicit threshold approach to differentiation in the WTO and one that is amenable to the principle of graduation. We use this approach to objectively identify which countries (from a pool of fifty developed, developing, and least developed WTO member countries) are entitled to derogate from specific CVA obligations based on special and differential treatment (SDT). Offering an alternative to the current SDT practice, differentiated differentiation requires that countries must justify, based on objective criteria, the need for a waiver from rule obligation for a limited period rather than qualifying for such a waiver by mere categorization as a developing country. The paper further defines a threshold at which SDT beneficiaries may be graduated out of SDT using a statistically-based scoring procedure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-762
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of World Trade
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2023


  • Capacity constraints
  • Composite indicators
  • Country categorization
  • Developing countries
  • Differentiation
  • Graduation
  • International trade law
  • Social science
  • Special and differential treatment
  • Trade agreements
  • WTO


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