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Homeland Security and the Rules of International Trade


  • Kerr, William A.


International trade law is very clear: national security concerns take precedent over any commitments in trade agreements. In response to the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the United States and other countries have been putting in place new anti-terrorist measures, many of which will act to inhibit international trade. As with any measure that inhibits international trade, these new measures will provide an economic benefit to domestic vested interests in importing countries. Guarding against the possibility of terrorist acts is by nature a speculative activity, and it is difficult to refute the need for the anti-terrorist measures put in place by governments. As a result, trading partners may be frustrated by what they perceive as protectionist measures and tempted to reply with trade-restricting measures of their own, imposed under the guise of national security. Thus, governments have a vested interest in being willing to listen to the comments of their trading partners and ensuring that the policies put in place achieve their goal in the least-trade-distorting manner – even if they are not obliged to do so. It is particularly important that the measures put in place have either sunset clauses or automatic reviews pertaining to their efficacy in achieving anti-terrorist goals. These provisions will help ensure that anti-terrorist measures are not captured by those who benefit from the economic protection they provide.

Suggested Citation

  • Kerr, William A., 2004. "Homeland Security and the Rules of International Trade," Estey Centre Journal of International Law and Trade Policy, Estey Centre for Law and Economics in International Trade, vol. 5(1).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:ecjilt:23852

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hobbs, Jill E. & Kerr, William A., 2007. "Agrifood Supply Chains in the NAFTA Market," 2007 NAAMIC Workshop IV: Contemporary Drivers of Integration 163899, North American Agrifood Market Integration Consortium (NAAMIC).
    2. Nakuja, T. & Kerr, William A., 2013. "Protectionism or Legitimate Regulations: What can Trade Partners Expect from the New US Food Safety Regime?," Commissioned Papers 165920, Canadian Agricultural Trade Policy Research Network.
    3. Nakuja, Tekuni & Akhand, M. & Hobbs, Jill E. & Kerr, William A., 2011. "The New Food Safety Regime in the US: How Will it Affect Canadian Competitiveness," Commissioned Papers 116847, Canadian Agricultural Trade Policy Research Network.
    4. Wieck, Christine & Rudloff, Bettina, 2007. "The Bioterrorism Act of the USA and international food trade: evaluating WTO conformity and effects on bilateral imports," Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development, Journal of International Agricultural Trade and Development, vol. 56(3).


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