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Part I The Regulation of International Trade, Ch.4 The Sources of International Trade Law

Matthew Kennedy

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

The multilateral rules of international trade law are administered by the WTO through a series of agreements containing both horizontally applicable rights and obligations as well as individually scheduled commitments. Although these rules are mostly set out in agreements concluded in 1994, they incorporate instruments from the prior GATT framework as well as rules developed in other international fora. They are supplemented by decisions taken after 1994, some of which are specifically provided for in the rules. The main source of clarification has been the rulings of the WTO dispute settlement system. Bilateral and regional rules have proliferated since the establishment of the WTO. They may exist within spaces created by exceptions in the multilateral rules but they are independent sources of law. Their subject matter overlaps considerably with multilateral rules. While they tend to diverge from multilateral rules in certain areas, such as market access, they do so less in other areas. Later generations of regional trade agreements often contain chapters covering topics on which there is no dedicated multilateral agreement. Preferential trade arrangements are authorized under exceptions in multilateral trade rules but they are established in the national laws of the preference-granting Members.

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