MJIEL Vol 7 Issue 1 2010 - Article 5

Abstract: Notification, and subsequent scrutiny, of free trade agreements and customs unions have a newfound importance with their meteoric increase since the Uruguay Round. While most of these preferential trade agreements seek legal cover under Article XXIV of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, if an agreement concerns goods and is amongst developing countries it may be justified under the Enabling Clause. Reviewing the controversy surrounding the Gulf Cooperation Council vacillating notice of this customs union between Article XXIV and the Enabling Clause provides an illustrative background to highlight the similarities and differences of these legal avenues. Through analyzing the reactions this change of course provoked, the textual differences between these two provisions are explicated. While the procedural differences between Article XXIV and the Enabling Clause are not great, there are significant substantive differences. These substantive differences, however, must not be equivocated with eviscerating all substantive requirements. Although the Enabling Clause generally contains less stringent substantive requirements, it is not utterly toothless. Coupling these differences with the different committees charged with leveling scrutiny, a clearer picture emerges of the textual requirements of these developing country trade agreements, their evaluation within the World Trade Organization, and potential remedies that ought to be considered in the Doha Round.

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