Access to Trade Justice: Fixing NAFTA's Flawed Dispute Settlement Process

23 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2017

See all articles by Simon Lester

Simon Lester, China Trade Monitor

Inu Manak

Council on Foreign Relations

Andrej Arpas

Cato Institute

Date Written: October 4, 2017


Without a properly functioning dispute process, the obligations in a trade agreement may not be worth much. As part of the NAFTA renegotiation, the NAFTA parties should try to fix certain flaws in the NAFTA Chapter 20 dispute settlement process that emerged a few years after NAFTA came into force. Chapter 20 was used regularly in its early years, but usage dropped considerably after panel selection was blocked in a case involving U.S. restrictions on Mexican sugar. In this paper, we examine recent innovations on panel selection in the TPP, CETA, and JEEPA dispute provisions, and draw from those to develop principles that can guide revisions to the NAFTA Chapter 20 panel selection process.

Keywords: NAFTA, Dispute Settlement, Chapter 20

Suggested Citation

Lester, Simon and Manak, Inu and Arpas, Andrej, Access to Trade Justice: Fixing NAFTA's Flawed Dispute Settlement Process (October 4, 2017). Available at SSRN: or

Simon Lester, China Trade Monitor ( email )

United States

Inu Manak (Contact Author)

Council on Foreign Relations ( email )

1777 F Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
United States

Andrej Arpas

Cato Institute ( email )

1000 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-5403
United States

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