WTO law on export restrictions on trade in goods: the rejected stone or the cornerstone?
PhD student: Mrs Dr K. Shang
Promotor: Prof P.L.H. van den Bossche
Duration: 1/9/2012 - 31/8/2016
PhD defence: Maastricht, 4/7/2017
This thesis will endeavour to examine the current status and the future trend of export restriction measures. Its thesis statement will be that (a) no WTO disciplines can effectively regulate export restrictions of non-military/dual use (NM/DU) goods at present, and (b) new WTO disciplines on export restrictions need to be developed, perhaps by involving the countries to tariffy all export quantitative restrictions and then talk down the tariffs to concession schedules. The thesis will be written in two parts: Part A and Part B. Part A will deliberate the first half of the thesis statement, namely no WTO disciplines can effectively regulate export restrictions of NM/DU goods at present. It will have four Chapters: Chapter 1 will introduce the basics of export restriction, including its definition, history, patterns, impact to the economy and the possible reasons for such restrictions to be employed. Chapter 2-3 will turn to examine the domestic laws of the major trade powers in the international community. Specifically, Chapter 2 will examine the laws of the US and EU, as the two powers are active advocates for tighter WTO disciplines on export restrictions. The writer will submit that although US/EU laws are largely not export-restrictive, their (especially the US) strict policies dual-use goods exportation can as well have significant negative economic impacts. Chapter 3 will turn to examine the laws of China, as it is a major trade power showing reluctance toward tighter WTO disciplines on this issue. Considering that the Chinese laws might not be entirely transparent and well observed in practice, this Chapter will also probe the actual practice of Chinas export restrictions by studying other sources, for example Chinese and non-Chinese custom records. Finally in Chapter 4, the writer will conclude Part A by submitting that there are no WTO disciplines which can effectively regulate export restrictions of NM/DU goods at present. Specifically, the recent defeat on Raw Materials will unlikely to shake Chinas export restriction regime, as China is likely to revise its laws to the effect of successfully raising a GATT Article XX defence. Other countries, which are not subject to an export-tax-capping accession protocol, are even freer to restrict their exports. In absence of laws, the trade powers will mainly deter the proliferation of export restrictive measures by naming and shaming each other. Part B will turn to deliberate the second half of the thesis statement by proposing a possible roadmap for a new discipline on export restrictions. Chapter 5 will propose that the first step of international collaboration can perhaps focus on promoting a more transparent report system of export restriction measures. As this proposal is generally endorsed by almost all major trade powers, one should be optimistic to see a more transparent system being materialized in near future. Further, Chapter 6 will examine the proposal of tariffying all export restrictions to export tax and will argue that this would be achievable if the trade powers can collaborate by mirroring the negotiation history of the GATT. Subsequently, Chapter 7 will propose that after the tarrification is accomplished, the trade powers may further start to reduce the export tax by mirroring the efforts which were made during the Kennedy Rounds on reducing import tax. Finally, the entire thesis will be wrapped up by a brief conclusion which will summarize all above deliberations.