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The Safeguards Mess: A Critique of WTO Jurisprudence

Alan O. Sykes

New York University School of Law

June 2003

U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 187

The creation of the WTO revived the use of "safeguard" measures to protect troubled industries against surges in import competition. Many of these measures have now been challenged in the WTO dispute resolution process, and in each case the process has found the challenged measure to be a violation of WTO law. This paper examines the WTO rules on safeguards from an economic perspective, and offers a critique of the Appellate Body decisions to date. Among other things, it argues that the textual preconditions for the use of safeguards in the treaty text are incoherent, and that the Appellate Body has compounded the problem through a series of unsound rulings. The result is a situation in which nations cannot use safeguards without facing a near certainty that they will be found invalid. Those who believe that safeguard measures are wasteful protectionism may welcome these developments, but it is not obvious that the trading system will benefit in the long run.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: tariffs, steel industry, GATT

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Date posted: June 16, 2003  

Suggested Citation

Sykes, Alan O., The Safeguards Mess: A Critique of WTO Jurisprudence (June 2003). U Chicago Law & Economics, Olin Working Paper No. 187. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=415800 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.415800

Contact Information

Alan O'Neil Sykes (Contact Author)
New York University School of Law ( email )
40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
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