Trade remedy measures in the WTO and regional trade agreements
Trade remedy measures (TRMs) in international economic law refer to antidumping measures, countervailing duties and safeguard measures. They are designed to respond to unfair trade practices or to compensate the negative impact on domestic industries resulting from tariff concessions made under the trade liberalization arrangements. Due to the importance of these instruments, the rules on TRMs are strengthened in the WTO legal framework and established on non-discriminatory basis towards all WTO Members. However, with the proliferation of regional trade agreements (RTA) in recent decades, it was noticed that, most RTAs adopted innovative approaches on TRMs among their regional partners. Such incoherence has brought a series of trade disputes and arguments concerning the conflicts between the WTO and RTA. Current central issues in this area are whether those innovative TRMs are consistent with WTO law and what is the appropriate approach to examine the legality of those measures. Against the canvas of WTO trade remedy rules, this research first investigates the diversified trade remedy approaches in RTAs and their impact on international trade. It then clarifies the ambiguous legal criteria against which TRMs in RTAs should be judged in order to be WTO-consistent. Thereafter, a methodology through which a RTA-specific TRM could be tested against the WTO’s criteria is also developed. It is argued that facilitating TRMs in RTAs must always adhere to the criteria laid down by the WTO, e.g. GATT Article XXIV. In particular, a “necessity test” should be applied when examining the legality of a special TRM in RTAs, in the case where a dispute arises between the RTA members and third countries on the issue. In order to bring the RTA-specific TRMs into compliance with WTO law, this research also looks at the WTO surveillance mechanism on RTAs. Considering a number of difficulties that have arisen in the GATT/WTO’s surveillance of RTAs in the past, the thesis addresses what positive measures can be taken in the future and whether TRMs in RTAs should be scrutinized by WTO political organs or through the dispute settlement mechanism.