Bringing Energy Trade into the WTO: The Historical Context, Current Status, and Potential Implications for the Middle East Region
23 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2012
Date Written: 2008
As oil prices topped seventy dollars per barrel in 2006, it became clear that the world was entering a period of historic transition with increased focus on new energy policies and energy security. The record-high oil prices led Peter Mandelson, the European Union's top trade official, to call for a new round of global trade talks under the World Trade Organization (WTO) focusing on energy and subjecting trade in oil and gas to the same rules as other goods under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).
Due to the strategic importance of petroleum and the initial nonparticipation of most key energy exporters in the early GATT rounds, energy products have largely been exempted from multilateral trading rules. Instead, international trade in petroleum has been treated as a special case subject to political pressures and national security exceptions under the GATT. This paper explores the opportunities and challenges in bringing energy trade under the WTO in the context of recent concerns over energy security.
Keywords: international trade, international law, Energy, oil, oil prices, WTO, energy security, energy trade, energy services, Energy Charter Treaty
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