Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 960: In the Shadow of the DSU: Addressing Specific Trade Concerns in the WTO SPS and TBT Committees

Henrik Horn (), Petros C. Mavroides and Erik N. Wijkström
Additional contact information
Henrik Horn: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: P.O. Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Petros C. Mavroides: EUI, Postal: Florence; and University of Neuchâtel
Erik N. Wijkström: World Trade Organization, Postal: Geneva

Abstract: The paper argues that focusing only on disputes formally raised in the WTO Dispute Settlement system underestimates the extent of trade conflict resolution within the WTO. Both the SPS and TBT Committees address a significant number of ‘specific trade concerns’ (STCs) that in the overwhelming majority of cases do not become formal disputes. The STCs address differences between Members concerning the conformity of national measures in the SPS and TBT areas with these agreements. It appears as if Committee work on STCs significantly helps defuse potential trade frictions concerning national policies in the covered areas.

Keywords: WTO; Specific trade concerns; SPS and TBT Committees; Dispute settlement

JEL-codes: F13; K32; K33

39 pages, March 12, 2013

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