Academic journal article Law and Policy in International Business


Academic journal article Law and Policy in International Business


Article excerpt


The impetus for the symposium was sections 124 and 125 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). Section 124 of the URAA requires the Trade Representative to submit a report to Congress on the operation of the WTO by March 1 of each year, beginning in 1996. Section 125 of the URAA provides that, starting with the Annual Report submitted on March 1, 2000, and every five years thereafter, the report of the Trade Representative: "shall include an analysis of the effects of the WTO Agreement on the interests of the United States, the costs and benefits to the United States of its participation in the WTO, and the value of the continued participation of the United States in the WTO."

Section 125 further provides that Congress' approval of the WTO Agreements in section 101(a) of the URAA "shall cease to be effective" if Congress passes a joint resolution of disapproval within 90 session days of the President's transmittal of the report to Congress.

The objective of the symposium was to convene a group of experienced and knowledgeable individuals from the U.S. government; U.S. private sector, including business, labor, and non-governmental organizations; trade practitioners; and academics, to review the performance of the WTO to date. The symposium was focused specifically on the criteria established in section 125: namely, (1) "the effects on the interests of the United States of its participation in the WTO;" (2) "the costs and benefits of its participation in the WTO;" and (3) "the value of the continued participation of the United States in the WTO."

In this regard, the participants looked both backward and forward in making their presentations and offering their comments. The backward glances were to establish WTO practice and experience in a given area since 1995, when the WTO came into effect. Participants identified key accomplishments as well as shortcomings in individual areas, such as the operation of the dispute settlement system under the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU), or under individual agreements such as the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs). We summarize below the key conclusions from these sessions. The forward glances were to assess, in light of accomplishments as well as unfulfilled potential, what key challenges remain.

In sum, the symposium was designed to address the key issues that were likely to receive attention in the Clinton Administration's March 1, 2000 report on the operation of the WTO and, subsequently, Congress' first five-year review. In addition, in view of the fact that, by January 2000, it had been more than five years since Congress had last passed a major trade bill, a key point of focus at the symposium was what had caused the apparent political breakdown on trade and what steps might be taken to resolve it and move forward again.


The symposium was divided into three parts: (1) review of the operation of the DSU; (2) review of the operation of, arguably, the five most important agreements negotiated in the Uruguay Round; and (3) examination of several key issues likely to be of importance in the future.

A. Operation of the DSU

Part I of the symposium was devoted to a detailed review of the DSU. The objectives of this part of the symposium were to: (1) examine each of the four principal stages of the dispute settlement system, consultations and deterrence, the panel process, the Appellate Body and implementation, and update the analysis and conclusions offered at a February 1998 symposium on the DSU, also sponsored by SILP and the Georgetown Law Center and (2) provide a detailed assessment of any problems and specific recommendations for addressing the problems. The analysis for this section focused heavily on issues of process rather than substantive interpretations of the relevant agreements, which was addressed in Part II of the symposium. …

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