International Trade Working Paper

The International Trade Working Paper series promptly documents and disseminates reviews, analytical work and think-pieces to facilitate the exchange of ideas and to stimulate debates and discussions on issues that are of interest to developing countries in general and Commonwealth members in particular. The issues considered in the papers may be evolving in nature, leading to further work and refinement at a later stage.


The Relationship Between the WTO Agreement on Agriculture and the SCM Agreement

An Analysis of Hierarchy Rules in the WTO Legal System

Since the expiry of the ‘peace clause’ at the end of 2003, it has been unclear which obligations under the WTO SCM Agreement apply to subsidies granted to agricultural products. This is in particular important for export subsidies, which are prohibited under the SCM Agreement, but, to some degree, recognised in the Agriculture Agreement. The matter is regulated by Article 21.1 of the Agriculture Agreement, which has been interpreted by the WTO Appellate Body in different ways, including as an expression of the lex specialis principle. This paper analyses this provision, and considers how it affects different forms of agricultural subsidies. It concludes that it would take an extension of the Appellate Body’s current interpretive framework to save export subsidies from the disciplines of the SCM Agreement.


Keywords: WTO law, WTO Agreement on Agriculture, WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, public international law, lex specialis, treaty conflicts
JEL: H3: Public Economics / Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents; Q17: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Agriculture / Agriculture in International Trade; H7: Public Economics / State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations; H71: Public Economics / State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations / State and Local Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue; H2: Public Economics / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue; H20: Public Economics / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue / Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue: General; K33: Law and Economics / Other Substantive Areas of Law / International Law; K3: Law and Economics / Other Substantive Areas of Law
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