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Nondiscrimination and the WTO Agreement on Safeguards


Most-favored-nation treatment, i.e., nondiscrimination among trading partners, is a fundamental principle of the GATT WTO system. The WTO Agreement on Safeguards has thus been seen as encouraging use of a preferred form of contingent protection relative to antidumping and other inherently discriminatory measures. In practice, however, safeguard protection may also incorporate discriminatory elements. This paper focuses on three ways that policies conforming to the Agreement on Safeguards may nonetheless discriminate explicitly or implicitly among trading partners. First, the form of the safeguard policy matters: quantitative restrictions discriminate among foreign suppliers by preserving historical market shares more than a safeguard implemented as a tariff. Second, safeguard measures discriminate against faster-growing exporters and new entrants in import markets. Third, formal exemptions for partners in preferential trade agreements and for small developing-country suppliers allow these countries to gain market share at the expense of non-exempted exporters. We provide evidence of these discriminatory effects in actual cases of safeguard protection.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal World Trade Review.

Volume (Year): 2 (2003)
Issue (Month): 03 (November)
Pages: 327-348

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Handle: RePEc:cup:wotrrv:v:2:y:2003:i:03:p:327-348_00
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