Universiteit Leiden

nl en


CPP Lecture 'Trade Justice and the Least-Developed Countries' by Tadhg Ó Laoghaire and Thomas Wells

Thursday 25 March 2021

Trade Justice and the Least-Developed Countries

The Centre of Political Philosophy is pleased to announce a lecture by

Tadhg Ó Laoghaire & Thomas Wells


We argue that least-developed countries (LDCs) should be treated as a distinct group from other developing countries within theories of global justice generally, and theories of trade justice more specifically. While authors within the trade justice literature occasionally make passing reference to LDCs’ entitlement to special favourable treatment from other states, little is said about what form this treatment should take, and how such entitlements relate to the obligations and entitlements of both developed and other developing countries. This oversight is untenable in that it neglects the different character and urgency of LDCs’ needs with respect to the economic opportunities afforded to them in international markets. Moreover, by categorising trading states into binary categories of developed/developing or rich/poor, trade justice theorists have ended up obscuring and passing over unavoidable conflicts between least-developed and developing countries’ interests, the weighing of which should be central to any complete normative evaluation of the trade regime. We provide an example of such a conflict of interest and how it should be resolved by examining the structural barrier to LDC economic development presented by the current success of many other developing countries in export manufacturing. We argue in favour of a trade policy intervention that would dismantle this structural barrier (by inducing export firms to move to LDCs), even though this means diverting valuable economic opportunities away from other developing countries.


Tadhg Ó Laoghaire is a post-doctoral researcher in economic ethics at the University of Gothenburg. Prior to this, he completed a PhD in Applied Ethics at the University of Leeds, on the topic of international trade justice. He also holds an MA degree in PPE from Leiden University. His research currently focuses on states' duties in trade, duties which he takes to be both distributive and procedural in character. In future work he intends to consider the justifiability of trade sanctions, as well as the duties of multinational corporations in the context of trade. His most recent publication is Why Dependence Grounds Duties of Trade Justice (Res Publica).

Thomas Wells is a lecturer in ethics and political philosophy at Leiden University. His research focuses on applied philosophy, especially ethical issues in business, capitalism and economics. A recent publication in this line is Just End Poverty Now: The Case for a Global Minimum Income (Basic Income Studies).

This website uses cookies.  More information.