Remedies in the WTO: An economic perspective
The WTO dispute settlement system represents a major achievement of the Uruguay Round. By most accounts, this system has worked very well. In the ongoing dispute settlement understanding (DSU) review, WTO Members are considering proposals that might lead to further improvements in the functioning of the dispute settlement system. Many of these proposals concern different kinds of remedies that might be used in response to a violation. An evaluation of proposals for remedy reform requires a perspective as to the purpose of the WTO. In this essay, I describe and then apply the terms-of-trade theory of trade agreements. I argue that this theory offers a coherent interpretation of the purpose and design of the WTO. The theory also offers novel insights with respect to proposed reforms of the WTO remedy system.
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