'Wto-Plus' Obligations and Their Implications for the World Trade Organization Legal System - an Appraisal of the China Accession Protocol
Journal of World Trade, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp. 483-522, 2003
40 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2006
This article examines a set of special rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that prescribe "WTO-plus" obligations for China at the time of its accession to the WTO in 2001. These obligations, most of them permanent, impose more stringent disciplines on China with respect to its economic system, rule of law, and foreign investment regulation than those required by the generally applicable WTO provisions. Prior to China's accession, very few member-specific WTO-plus obligations existed. The article analyzes the positive and negative implications of WTO-plus obligations for the WTO legal system. While recognizing the benefits such obligations may bring, the article contends that imposing WTO-plus obligations on a member-specific basis is inherently incompatible with, and may seriously undermine, a rule-based WTO system. Given that member-specific rulemaking is permitted only in the case of accession, the article makes specific recommendations concerning reform of the WTO accession process.
Keywords: WTO, China, accession, rulemaking, rule of law
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