Multilateralising Regionalism: Disciplines on Export Restrictions in Regional Trade Agreements
The proliferation of preferential trade agreements has posed challenges for the multilateral trading system. But regional trade agreements (RTAs) also allow countries to develop and strengthen trade disciplines beyond what is possible at the multilateral level. In some instances, RTAs explore policy areas that are the subject of few disciplines at the multilateral level. They may provide lessons and suggest good practices that could be used to inform discussions in a wider setting. One such policy area is export restrictions and taxes. Export restrictions and duties have not been given the same degree of attention in multilateral trade agreements and negotiations as the elimination of import tariffs and quantitative restrictions. The WTO provides a general prohibition on quantitative export restrictions but the broad and, at times, ambiguous exceptions somewhat vitiate the ban. Moreover, export taxes are not explicitly forbidden in the WTO. This study suggests that there are a number of ways by which WTO disciplines could benefit from the approaches found in some RTAs in the area of export restrictions.
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