Transitional economies have steadily become a very substantial portion of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) membership comprising around two-thirds of new members since 1996-and a very large proportion of the States currently negotiating accession, but they have been subject to different and more onerous treatment than their fellow ‘non-transitional’ members. Increasingly, the differential treatment of transitional economies under the WTO regime is causing both generalized conflict and specific WTO disputes. This article argues that designations such as ‘transitional economy’ and ‘non-market economy’ are flawed in the binary approach that they establish in relation to the notion of the market.While they serve useful political objectives for some WTO members, they are unsatisfactory from a legal and theoretical perspective. In the longer term, this is an untenable position and one that should be reconsidered for the sake of transparency within the WTO framework. We conclude that the use of these dichotomies in the WTO context requires reconsideration.