The current discussions on a future framework for competition policy within the World Trade Organization ("WTO")have revealed reservations against the full application of the WTO dispute settlement system to such a framework. The current dispute settlement system of the WTO is one of the results of the Uruguay Round negotiations. For an international agreement of nearly universal scope, this system is unique in its obligatory and quasi-automatic character. In general, complaints can be brought to the WTO against national laws which fail to comply with WTO obligations and also against a WTO-inconsistent application of national laws in individual cases. The possibility of enforcing the legal obligations resulting from the agreements negotiated within the WTO and the stronger force that these agreements thus have is one of the reasons why the proponents of a WTO competition agreement favor the WTO as a negotiation forum. Nevertheless, several of these proponents contemplate at most a limited future role for the WTO dispute settlement system within a future competition agreement. At the outset, the United States in particular took a skeptical approach, which the European Communities seem to have now joined in.


Antitrust and Trade Regulation

Date of this Version

December 2005