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Agreement Establishing the Worldtrade Organization

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Chapter Summary

The introductory clauses embody the Preamble to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on account of their location and wording. As generally in public international law, this preamble is part of the narratio, not of the dispositio; it does not have the function of laying down legal obligations. Preamble statements may receive legal force if incorporated by treaty obligations. A contextual interpretation based on the Preamble's open-ended objectives entails a considerable amount of interpretative discretion of the WTO dispute settlement organs. The Preamble informs the entire WTO legal regime15 and prevails over contrasting objectives such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) objective of "full exploitation of natural resources". Although many of the Multilateral Trade Agreements (MTAs) also contain preambles, the one in the WTO Agreement is of particular importance, as it contains the objectives of the entire trade regime.

Keywords: General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade; Multilateral Trade Agreements (MTAs); public international law; treaty obligations; WTO Agreement



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