Analytical Note, December 2008

Article XXIV and RTAs: How Much Wiggle Room for Developing Countries?.

The issue of ‘WTO Compatibility’ of regional trade agreements (RTAs) has been intensely debated ever since the days of the GATT. RTAs are governed by Article XXIV in the GATT. The Article however does not have a development dimension.

This paper argues for the need to insert strong Special and Differential Treatment clauses into Article XXIV in order to be legally consistent with GATS V. It also looks at the ways in which some WTO Members, especially developed countries, have protected their markets in their RTAs. These are grounds for developing countries to legitimately open up less fully.

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