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Advanced Introduction to International Trade Law

Michael J. Trebilcock

A second and fully updated edition of the book previously entitled Understanding Trade Law, this book presents an accessible yet nuanced introduction to the basic structure and principles of international trade law. It explores the development of the international trade law regime, principally GATT and WTO law, and through clear and concise discussion of the many developments that have arisen, gives a streamlined overview of this notoriously complex area of legal study.
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8  Safeguards and adjustment assistance policies

Michael J. Trebilcock


Since the genesis of the GATT in 1947, the multilateral trade regime has provided for unilateral opt-outs from trade liberalization commitments in circumstances involving unforeseen developments causing serious injury to domestic producers in the importing country. Between January 1995 and March 2013, 255 safeguard initiations and 335 countervailing duty initiations were reported to the WTO compared to 4358 dumping actions reported to the WTO between 1995 and 2013.1 While the “safeguards” regime has been much less frequently invoked than the other two major trade remedy regimes (especially antidumping), it has given rise to a number of high profile recent disputes.

Article XIX of the GATT sets out the basic safeguard regime:

If, as a result of unforeseen developments and of the effect of the obligations incurred by a contracting party under this Agreement, including tariff concessions, any product is being imported into the territory of that contracting party in such increased quantities and under such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to domestic producers in that territory of like or directly competitive products, the contracting party shall be free, in respect of such product, and to the extent and for such time as may be necessary to prevent or remedy such injury, to suspend the obligation in whole or in part or to withdraw or modify the concession.

Article XIX goes on to provide that before any contracting party shall take action pursuant to this provision, it shall give notice to the...

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