Selected Legal Issues
Chapter 2: Energy as a special sector in the World Trade Organization
For decades, trade in energy has been treated as a special case of international trade, different from other trade sectors and products. In fact, it is safe to consider the energy trade sector as one of the most significant trade sectors – actually the most – for a variety of reasons, including its unique characteristics and the unprecedented challenges confronting it. Moreover, the ongoing debate over the applicability/inapplicability of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO) disciplines to trade in energy further sets this sector apart. One school of thought believes that international trade in energy is included in and is subject to GATT/WTO disciplines. It holds that international trade in energy is governed by WTO law, like any other trade in goods or services, and that it is not excluded from the coverage of the GATT/WTO law. The other school of thought holds that a combination of factors has led, de facto, to the exclusion of energy trade from the scope of GATT/WTO disciplines. To support their arguments and arrive at their conclusions, both schools of thought have examined the creation of the GATT, its founding members, the various multilateral trade negotiations, the purposes and objectives behind the GATT, the GATT rounds of multilateral trade negotiations, the Uruguay Round and the establishment of the WTO, and even aspects of the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
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