The Law and Economics of Contingent Protection in the WTO


The Law and Economics of Contingent Protection in the WTO


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In this important book, three of the leading authors in the field of international economic law discuss the law and economics of the three most frequently used contingent protection instruments: anti-dumping, countervailing measures, and safeguards. When discussing countervailing measures, the authors also discuss legal challenges against prohibited and/or actionable subsidies. The authors’ choice is mandated by the fact that the effects of a subsidy cannot always be confined to the market of the WTO Member wishing to react against it. Assuming there are effects outside its market, an injured WTO Member can challenge the scheme as such before a WTO Panel. Taking the three agreements for granted as a starting point, the book provides comprehensive discussion of both the original contracts, and the case law that has substantially contributed to the understanding of these agreements.

The agreements discussed by the authors provide generally worded disciplines on Members and leave a lot of discretion to the investigating authorities of such Members. A great number of the many questions that arise in the course of a domestic trade remedies investigation are not explicitly addressed in these agreements. In such a situation, the authors highlight the important role that the judge has to play. Much like domestic investigating authorities adopt a line which is either more liberal or more protectionist in the application of trade remedies, the WTO adjudicator on numerous occasions was faced with similar policy problems in applying the general rules to the facts of the case before them. The authors point out that the adjudicating bodies have insisted on the unfair character of dumping in order to substantiate their relatively deferential standard of review. In the anti-dumping / countervailing duties context, case law has generally emphasized the limited character of the obligations on investigating authorities. This implies that domestic investigating authorities, following the evolution of case law, are now facing a deferential standard of review when imposing anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

The book offers a contrasting view of the Agreement on Safeguards, an instrument the use of which, according to the authors, could, in principle, be defensible: WTO Members will have extra incentives to make commitments within a flexible contract. Moreover, safeguards can, in their view, help ease the pressures from domestic lobbies by facilitating (sometimes necessary) adjustment costs. However, the case law is described by the authors as having adopted a rather inflexible stance, the end result of which is that no imposition of safeguards has survived the test of consistency with WTO law. They identify the apparent rationale for the case law as an over-insistence on what they label the highly uninformative fair/unfair trade distinction.

The economic analysis employed by the authors would suggest that – in the light of the unsatisfactory nature of anti-dumping measures, contrasted with the positive incentives inherent in safeguards – ultimately one could envisage merging the three instruments of contingent protection into one new safeguards instrument. Equally, they argue, this economic approach, combined with legal doctrine, offers great insight into the current provisions, allowing them to be interpreted in a more coherent and meaningful manner.


Economics | Environmental Law | International Economics | International Law | Law




Edward Elgar Publishing


Northampton, MA


“All three parts [of the book] are without question extremely detailed and thorough treatises of the three different instruments of contingent protection. The case “law” of the DSB as well as policy proposals put forward in the Doha Round are referred to and analysed extensively. Every part of the book is an excellent and very thoughtful work on the respective instrument and will be helpful for everyone working in the field.”
Christoph Herrmann, Common Market Law Review

“Although the legal landscape is littered with literature about the WTO, antidumping, safeguards, subsidies and countervailing measures, the missing piece has been a comprehensive text tying together the law and economics of these topics. Mavroidis, Messerlin and Wauters fill this gap. The authors form an unparalleled triumvirate who successfully draw on their complementary legal-economic experiences from policymaking, practitioner expertise and academic scholarship to comprehensively examine contingent protection. In a single book, they manage to explain the economics to the lawyers, the law to the economists, and the increasing importance of contingent protection policies to everyone.”
Chad P. Bown, The World Bank, US

“The new book by Petros Mavroidis, Patrick Messerlin and Jasper Wauters, The Law and Economics of Contingent Protection in the WTO, fills a gap in the international trade literature by providing a comprehensive, interdisciplinary (law and economics) treatment of three of the most arcane and least well-understood trade protection regimes permitted under the GATT/WTO, i.e., anti-dumping, countervailing duties, and safeguards. The authors expertly weave together both a comprehensive and rigorous analysis of the complex legal rules and case law with an economic critique of the law governing each of these three regimes. The book is a tour de force and will become the standard reference work for scholars, policy makers, and practitioners specializing in these areas.”
Michael Trebilcock, University of Toronto, Canada

“Trade barriers that are contingent on the existence of specific conditions – dumping by, or subsidization of, exporters, and injury of domestic firms – have historically been used intensively by many OECD countries and are now increasingly applied by developing countries. This volume provides an excellent discussion and accessible analysis of WTO rules on contingent protection and the rapidly expanding case law. The authors have done a major service to both legal practitioners and trade policy analysts with an interest in this area.”
Bernard Hoekman, The World Bank, US

The Law and Economics of Contingent Protection in the WTO

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