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Preferential trade agreements and the World Trade Organization: developments to the dispute settlement understanding

Hyams, Adam; Villalta Puig, Gonzalo


Adam Hyams

Gonzalo Villalta Puig


© 2017 Kluwer Law International BV, The Netherlands. On 21 March 2016, at the 9th Annual Update on World Trade Organization (WTO) Dispute Settlement, former Chairman of the Special Session of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB), Ambassador Ronald Saborío Soto, spoke on the Dispute Settlement Understanding (DSU) negotiations in light of recent dispute settlement experience. He expressed that changes to the DSU ought to promote the future efficiency and effectiveness of the WTO as a dispute settlement system. The proliferation of Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) has been a recurrent curiosity for the WTO, with provisions often competing and overlapping. Earlier work studying these interactions emphasizes uncertainty in the application of non-WTO law, including PTAs, to WTO disputes and highlights the WTO's implicit claim to supremacy. The purpose of this article is to critically analyse the state-of-play of negotiations on improvements and clarifications of the DSU in addressing PTAs. It examines whether current DSU proposals meet the DSB's intended objectives and suggests solutions where problematic uncertainties remain. The article concludes that PTAs have not been sufficiently regarded by negotiators and that more express measures are required in the DSU to clarify such uncertainties and harmonize with PTAs in order to preserve the WTO's future legitimacy.


Hyams, A., & Villalta Puig, G. (2017). Preferential trade agreements and the World Trade Organization: developments to the dispute settlement understanding. Legal Issues of Economic Integration, 44(3), 237-264

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 24, 2017
Publication Date 2017-08
Deposit Date May 24, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 31, 2017
Journal Legal Issues of Economic Integration
Print ISSN 1566-6573
Electronic ISSN 1875-6433
Publisher Kluwer Law International
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 3
Pages 237-264
Keywords Preferential trade agreements, World Trade Organization, Dispute settlement understanding
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Authors' accepted manuscript of article published in: Legal issues of economic integration, 2017, v.44 issue 3.


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