Articles

MFN Clubs and Scheduling Additional Commitments in the GATT: Learning from the GATS

Abstract

Scheduling additional commitments for policies affecting trade in goods in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade has been plagued by two sources of ambiguity: the treatment of changes introduced unilaterally by members subsequent to an initial commitment and the treatment of new commitments by World Trade Organization (WTO) members pertaining to non-tariff policy measures affecting trade in goods. This is not the case for trade in services, as the General Agreement on Trade in Services makes explicit provision for additional commitments to be scheduled. Neither secondary law, in the form of decisions formally adopted by the WTO membership, nor case law has clarified the situation for trade in goods. This matter is important for the WTO as it determines the feasibility of clubs of countries agreeing to new enforceable policy disciplines that bind only signatories but are applied on a non-discriminatory basis to all WTO members. In this article, we discuss the legal state of play and the ‘policy space’ that WTO members have to establish most-favoured-nation, club-based disciplines for non-tariff measures.