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date: 18 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article analyses the flexibilities, rules, and trade remedies that form a part of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization. Provisions such as safeguards and anti-dumping are important in that they provide governments with the necessary flexibilities to deal with internal pressures and still maintain a generally liberal trade policy. However, the article argues that they are an embarrassment to both legal and economic theory: the discipline which the system applies is more about fewer restrictions than good restrictions versus bad. It examines the provisions' evolving usage and calls for ‘analytic reform’ rather than just ‘policy reform’ of the trade remedy system, which includes closer attention to the national institutions that manage trade remedies. GATT's early decades were characterized by what Robert Hudec described as a ‘diplomat's jurisprudence’, a compromise between jurisprudence as understood by lawyers and the reality of the limited influence trade negotiators had over national trade policy decisions. The article also looks at the United States' safeguard measures against imports of steel from 2002 to 2003.

Keywords: flexibilities, rules, trade remedies, Tariffs and Trade, World Trade Organization, safeguards, anti-dumping, United States, imports, steel

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