Part or chapter of a book
Need for Coherence Among the WTO’s Escape Clauses
China's Participation in the WTO
London : Editorial Cameron May
51 - 75 p.
MANY governments think they could not secure the support of domestic producer interests for the trade-liberalizing agreements they negotiate with other countries without provisions in them that permit a degree of flexibility in implementing the core obligations they undertake in the event of unforeseeable or even foreseeable problems. 1 Thus in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) there are “escape clauses” that, as exceptio ns to the rules, allow members to exceed their tariff bindings and impose import restrictions that would otherwise violate GATT articles.2 The result is a constant tension between the rules drawn to permit limited exceptions to general GATT obligations and constant pressures in member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to expand the escape clauses to provide protection to politically powerful constituencies – often without much regard for the limits within the GATT – in the other direction. General GATT obligations include Articles I, II, II and XI. Politics dictate the pressures that predominate, but, to ensure that protectionist pressures do not gain excessively, the different escape clauses in the WTO must be narrowly defined. They are justified in various ways. There is little or no coordination or consistency left, however, between the terms under which they are applicable, given all the changes that have taken place with the rapid integration of the world economy since the GATT came into being in 1948.