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Part VI The Settlement of Trade Disputes in the WTO and Bilateral/Regional Trade Agreements, Ch.35 Interpretation

Peter Van den Bossche, Parika Ganeriwal

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law (2e) (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Daniel Bethlehem, Donald McRae, Rodney Neufeld, Isabelle Van Damme

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 16 July 2024

Customary international law

This chapter on the interpretation of WTO agreements and regional trade agreements seeks to answer the relevant ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions, namely ‘how’ to interpret these agreements and ‘what’ rules apply to the interpretation. To that end, this chapter addresses the principles of and the jurisprudence on the interpretation of trade agreements. It begins with an exploration of the provisions of the WTO agreements that provide guidance on the interpretation of WTO law. It subsequently discusses the codified rules on treaty interpretation as comprised in the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT) and examines the application of these rules by the WTO Appellate Body in its interpretation of provisions of the WTO agreements. The application by the Appellate Body of non-codified principles of interpretation, such as the principle of effectiveness and the principle of in dubio mitius, as well as the evolutionary approach to interpretation are also discussed. This chapter concludes with an examination of the rules applicable on, and applied to, the interpretation of free trade agreements other than the WTO agreements.

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