General Issues and Regional Groups
Edited by Miroslav N. Jovanović
Chapter 5: The World Trade Organization and International Economic Integration: Legal Aspects
Dencho Georgiev 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter is structured as follows. Section 2 discusses the GATT–WTO legal framework on international economic integration, with particular reference to: the GATT definition of customs unions and free trade areas; requirements; procedures; the Enabling Clause; regional trade agreements covering trade in services; the WTO Committee on Regional Trade Agreements; and the transparency mechanism. Section 3 considers problems of interpretation, including: ‘substantially all the trade’; derogation; exceptions permitted in paragraph 8 of Article XXIV GATT; non-zero preferential tariff rates; and whether RTA rules of origin are ‘other regulations of commerce’. Section 4 examines international agreements on economic integration and the system of WTO law: compatibility of RTAs with the WTO; and the relationship between regional trade agreements and the WTO under international law. The final section contains conclusions. 2 THE GATT–WTO LEGAL FRAMEWORK ON INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC INTEGRATION The liberalisation of trade is a central purpose for both the World Trade Organization and international economic integration. The legal instruments used are in both cases international agreements, that is, treaties under public international law. Although the concept of economic integration appeared in the second half of the twentieth century, some of the forms of trade arrangements which are now considered as forms or stages of economic integration had existed long before that.1 Hence, after the Second World War, in the course of the negotiations for the establishment of a universal organisation for international trade which resulted in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) – the...
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