Chapter 2: GATT Article XIX and negotiation of the Agreement on Safeguards
GATT Article XIX is the first safeguard provision in the international trading system. Article XIX was brought to the world as the child of a US proposal in 1946. The United States submitted a working proposal for the Charter of the International Trade Organization (ITO) that included an escape clause. It was very similarly worded to the escape clause in the previous US-Mexico Agreement. Although the ITO never came into existence, the escape clause was adopted as part of the GATT provisions. The escape clause of the US-Mexico Agreement set out three conditions for the application of a safeguard measure: an increase in imports; serious injury or threat thereof to domestic producers of like or similar articles; and the causal relationship between increased imports and injury. The notion of safeguard measures as emergency action to prevent or remedy serious injury to domestic industry was also adopted in Article XIX as well as in the Agreement on Safeguards five decades later. Both Article XIX and the SA have adopted those three conditions as the general requirements for the application of a safeguard measure. Comprising merely five paragraphs, Article XIX is noted for its brevity and lacks detailed substantive and procedural requirements for the application of a safeguard measure. Paragraph 1(a) of the Article provides the general conditions for the application of a safeguard measure. The other provisions include: regulation of the protection of the existing trade preference (paragraph 1(b)); prior notice and consultations (paragraph 2); and compensation and retaliation (paragraph 3).
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