Water as a Public Good: The Status of Water Under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
24 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2010
Date Written: 2009
Is water a "product" subject to the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)? I argue that it is not, because the established, widespread, and consistent assertion by states of public ownership over their water resources through both municipal and international law (the "public-ownership consensus") precludes any reading of GATT that would fundamentally alter the unique status of those resources. My reasoning therefore differs from that of others who have addressed this issue in that I first examine the broader legal context in which the WTO exists and then consider how that context compels an interpretation of "product" that excludes water resources.
Keywords: WTO, GATT, water, water resources, trade law, product, public-ownership consensus
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