Volume 52 (2018) / Issue 3
GATT Article XXIV:8 requires regional trade agreement (RTA) parties to eliminate duties in substantially all the trade (SAT) between the parties. However, this requirement has not been seriously enforced during GATT and WTO years because WTO members have not agreed to an exact definition of SAT. Nevertheless, some WTO members examining RTAs in the WTO Committee on Regional Trade Agreements (CRTA) expressed the view that elimination of tariffs in 90% of tariff lines satisfies the SAT requirement on the ground that the average of tariff elimination coverage of RTAs is 90%. RTA parties with tariff-elimination coverage below the average level have adapted to this perceived norm by prolonging tariff elimination schedules or by using subjective measures of internal trade liberalization. Paradoxically, the adaptations support the argument that the GATT Article XXIV:8 requirement is an operationally binding constraint on the RTA parties, although there is no agreement on any fixed percentage of internal-trade-liberalization coverage that meets the Article XXIV:8 requirement.
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