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Enforcement of the WTO ‘Regional Exceptions’: A Comparative Institutional Analysis

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Chapter Summary

The increasing number of Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) gives rise to tensions with the multilateral trading system because they collide with the most important principle of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) legal order: non-discrimination. WTO law provides for rules governing the formation of PTAs. The content of rules is far from being undisputed and their application is subject to institutional constraints. The author analyses the institutions charged with administering the law governing the WTO consistency of PTAs and compare their advantages and drawbacks. On this basis the chapter explains why the WTO 'regional exceptions' remain largely unenforced. To that end the chapter focuses on the 'costs' of participating in the processes of legality scrutiny. The simultaneous shift towards bilateralism together with the revision of the General System of Preferences (GSP) bears the potential to increase the stakes of affected countries and thereby giving PTA scrutiny in the WTO new momentum.

Keywords: General System of Preferences (GSP); institutional constraints; Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs); PTA scrutiny; regional exceptions; World Trade Organisation (WTO)



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