Historical Learning in the Design of WTO Rules: The EC Sugar Case

18 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2009

See all articles by Rob Ackrill

Rob Ackrill

Nottingham Business School (NEW L8), Nottingham Trent University

Adrian Kay

Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU

Abstract

The Uruguay Round Agreement made significant changes to the governance of international trade. Trade rules and dispute settlement mechanisms were altered and a series of specific agreements provided for liberalisation across economic sectors. The Agreement on Agriculture, arguably the most difficult and contentious to negotiate, permitted the continued use of trade-distorting instruments, both domestically and at the border. Rule-enforcement in agriculture therefore relies crucially on the clarity of the rules. This paper provides an in-depth study of a unique and critical case for understanding the new rules: the EC sugar regime. This policy was challenged unsuccessfully under the pre-Uruguay Round rules, but successfully under the new rules. This case is particularly valuable in allowing us to isolate the effect of the Uruguay Round on agricultural trade disputes: the policy under challenge was essentially unchanged and the legal actions addressed the same concern – excessive export subsidisation. Drawing on primary and secondary materials and interviews with key policy actors, sugar is used to illustrate how those involved in the multilateral process learned from particular rule weaknesses revealed in earlier cases, revising those rules in the Uruguay Round in such a way that dispute panels can more readily and objectively determine rule breaches.

Suggested Citation

Ackrill, Robert and Kay, Adrian, Historical Learning in the Design of WTO Rules: The EC Sugar Case. World Economy, Vol. 32, Issue 5, pp. 754-771, May 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1396471 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9701.2008.01148.x

Robert Ackrill (Contact Author)

Nottingham Business School (NEW L8), Nottingham Trent University ( email )

Dept Of Economics
Burton Street
Nottingham, NG1 4BU
United Kingdom
+44 0115 848 4234 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.ntu.ac.uk/staff-profiles/business/robert-ackrill

Adrian Kay

Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU ( email )

7 Liversidge Street
Lennox Crossing
Canberra, ACT 0200
Australia

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