Selected Legal Issues
Chapter 3: Trade, environment, and energy: implications for the conservation of oil resources
The environmental significance of natural resources was explicitly recognized in the multilateral trade agreements with the establishment of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1947.The GATT contained the general exception in its Article XX(g) justifying measures which, although deemed to be in violation of the GATT rules, aimed at conserving ‘exhaustible natural resources’. Since the creation of the GATT 1947, this exception has remained a central one, and still is in the context of the World Trade Organization (WTO), created in 1995. The tension between trade and environment, including issues of exhaustible natural resources, has comprised an essential controversy within several important GATT and WTO decisions. Importantly, neither the GATT nor the WTO agreements have defined the exact meaning and scope of the phrase ‘exhaustible natural resources’. Various decisions were held pertinent to the protection of exhaustible natural resources, where different forms of natural resources were involved and a variety of interpretations and analytical approaches were utilized.
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