Chapter 1: Politics and economics of safeguard measures
It is the fundamental principle of the international trading system under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) that the member countries (hereinafter, "Members") are bound by their negotiated concessions for imports unless those concessions are duly modified in accordance with the existing rules. This principle is essential for the stabilization of the international trading system and for further promotion of trade. There are limited exceptions to this principle, and the term "safeguard" or "safeguard measure" has been used to denote certain restrictions on imports of an emergency nature, irrespective of the importing Member's obligation under its concessions. Safeguard measures are distinguished from some other forms of import restrictions such as anti-dumping actions and countervailing duties that are applied on the basis of "unfair" trade practices by exporters. Safeguards are applicable as a temporary measure where increased imports cause or threaten to cause serious injury to the domestic industry that produces like or directly competitive products,regardless of the existence of any unfair trade practice on the part of exporters. Certain provisions in various GATT Articles and the WTO Agreements allow Members to depart from their negotiated concessions and restrict imports irrespective of the existence of unfair trade practices. They include GATT Articles XIX, XII, and XVIII, the Agreement on Safeguards, the Understanding on Balance of Payments of the GATT 1994, the Agreement on Agriculture, and Article XII of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).
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