Fighting Fire with Fire: A Repeat Violator Policy for the WTO

5 Baku St. U. L.Rev. 174 (2019)
Article language: English.


The Trump presidency and other reactionary conservative governments present an immensely powerful danger to the World Trade Organization (“WTO”). The WTO is largely built on Members’ willingness to comply with its rules, and the current Dispute Settlement Understanding (“DSU”) is too weak to deter an avowed enemy of the WTO such as President Trump. This poor enforcement system particularly hurts developing countries, which lack the power under the DSU to effectively deter economic giants like the United States.

The recent Doha Round was supposed to create a more effective enforcement mechanism under the DSU, but it fell apart before any such changes were made. The most prominent alternatives raised in the Doha Round are ultimately problematic either because they do not address the weakness of retaliation under the DSU or because they are unlikely to be approved by the WTO Membership. A new, more plausible suggestion would be the creation of a repeat violator policy, which would provide for much stronger retaliation against those Members who repeatedly disregard the WTO Agreement. Such a policy would be especially aimed at serious threats to the WTO, such as the Trump administration, and could likely be achieved without going through the formal amendment process, making it the most viable measure for countering these new threats to the WTO.

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