WTO

The UK is a founding member of the WTO, and has been a contracting party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade since 1948. Since acceding to the EU, the UK’s commitments and role in the WTO have been subsumed under the EU’s common commercial policy. On leaving the EU it will participate in the WTO in its own right. It will then need to define its position across the main functions of the WTO: the negotiation and administration of WTO agreements; dispute settlement; and surveillance.

The negotiations arm of the WTO is perhaps the most well-known. Negotiations usually take place in “rounds”. The current round, launched in Doha, Qatar in 2001 has seen only very limited progress. Its chief results have been a new agreement on trade facilitation, and an agreement on liberalising trade in Information Technology.

Less well known, but nevertheless of great importance, is the administrative function of the WTO. This function is undertaken by a variety of councils and committees that administer specific agreements or deal with specific issues (such as trade and development and trade environment). The General Council oversees all of this work. Within the work of these bodies, the UK will need to defend positions and put its concerns to others. To take one example, the work of the committee on Technical Barriers to Trade deals with the nexus between domestic regulation (e.g. on health or environmental matters) and trade. The UK can bring specific trade concerns relating to the regulation of other members, and can expect to be challenged in a similar manner

The WTOs dispute settlement function, as its name indicates, deals with litigation between members states. Member states challenge the laws and policies of others that are found to contravene WTO law or commitments undertaken under WTO agreements. The adjudication of disputes occurs in the first instance by panels, whose findings can be appealed through the Appellate Body. The UK has limited direct experience of dispute settlement, and will need to rapidly build its capacity to participate in disputes as complainant, defendant or as a third party.

The least well known part of the WTO is its surveillance function, which is managed by the WTO’s Trade Policies Review Body. All WTO members are subjected to periodic reviews, with the periodicity based on the share of world trade. The four largest members – the US, the EU,  Japan and China – are reviewed every two years. Most other countries are reviewed on a 4 year basis, which is the timetable likely to apply to the UK. The reviews are undertaken by WTO staff economists. The purpose of the review process is to have an open discussion about the member states’ trade policies. The process is often beneficial to participating countries since it provides them with an objective assessment of their policies.

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Commentary

Trade facts the UK Government has to face

    International trade in goods, Trade services, Professional services brexit, brexit professional services, brexit network, trade expertise, trade expertise network, Trade knowledge, trade knowedge exchange, trade compliance, trade tools, barriers to international trade, effects of tariffs, brexit trade, brexit trade deals, post brexit trade deals, post-brexit trade deals, brexit trade, brexit trade deals, trade after brexit, brexit trade agreements, brexit analysis, trade analysis,

    A central plank of the UK Government’s Brexit policy is to re-establish an “independent” UK international trade policy following more than forty years of integration into the Common Commercial Policy (CCP) of the European Union.  This would have been hard enough technically, even without the ill-tempered stand-off into which the Brexit negotiations have now declined.  […]

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    Commentary

    No, GATT Article XXIV will not save the UK from a no deal Brexit

      Once the preserve of trade policy wonks, GATT Article XXIV has entered mainstream political discourse in the UK. Ever since the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK and EU was first voted down in parliament, various political figures (Dominic Raab being the latest) have referred to this Article as paving the way  for a “managed […]

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      Commentary

      Planning for No Deal: The UK’s temporary tariff proposals

        With the UK parliament showing little sign of resolving its differences of opinion with itself on the UK’s departure from the EU, the UK government has published a list of customs duties that would apply “temporarily” in the event of a “no-deal“ exit. The government says that under such arrangements 87% of imports to the […]

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        Commentary

        Macron-omics meets multilateralism

        https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vladimir_Putin_and_Emmanuel_Macron_(2017-05-29)_06.jpg

        Emmanuel Macron has an appetite for big challenges. Not content with trying to rescue the Paris Agreement, the Iran nuclear deal, and stare down waves of strikes at home, he now wants to completely overhaul the WTO. His call came at an OECD forum, at the end of which the United States pointedly refused to […]

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