The Role Of Dispute Settlement Procedures In International Trade Agreements

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Although much of the procedure is similar to a court, the preferred solution is for the countries concerned to discuss their problems and oppose them themselves. The first step is therefore consultation between the governments concerned and, even if the case has moved on to other stages, consultation and mediation are still possible. Formal economic analysis of trade agreements generally treats disputes as synonymous with concerns about their application. But in reality, most WTO disputes involve differences of opinion on the interpretation of the agreement or in cases where the agreement simply remains silent. And some have suggested that the WTO`s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) can fulfill a useful objective by granting, in certain circumstances, «waivers» to rigid contractual obligations. In each of these three cases, the role of the DSB is to «complete» different dimensions of an incomplete contract. In addition, there is a debate among lawyers as to whether or not the precedents in the DSB judgments can improve the performance of the institution. All of this points to the importance of understanding the implications of different possible degrees of activism in the role of the DSB. In this paper, we provide a formal analysis of this broad issue. We characterize the choice of the contractual form and the role of the DSB, which is optimal for governments under different contractual conditions. A new feature of our approach is that it emphasizes the interaction between the design of the treaty and the organization of dispute settlement procedure and considers the latter as two components of a single global institutional problem. At the Doha Ministerial Conference in 2001, WTO members agreed to negotiate the improvement and clarification of the DSU – the WTO`s dispute settlement rules and procedures.

Panels are like the courts. However, unlike a normal court, panelists are usually elected in consultation with the countries in dispute. Only if the two sides fail to reach an agreement will the WTO Director-General appoint them. Final report: A final report will be presented to both parties and distributed three weeks later to all WTO members. . . .

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