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IP3 Regionalism; Special and Differential Treatment; and Variable Geometry Print
World trade rules are not marked by a uniform ‘geometry’. Exceptions are made to general principles for defined groups of nations, for specific principles and specific issues. Regional trade arrangements (RTAs) and Special and Differential Treatment (SDT) are the two most important exceptions. Another class of exceptions is the codes approach from the Tokyo Round, which survives today in the form of two plurilateral agreements that contain certain exceptions (e.g. intellectual property protection beyond the TRIPS standards). In addition, Members may choose, as a form of SDT, not to adhere to these agreements based on cultural considerations or other reasons. ‘Variable geometry’ is the name for this type of regulatory regime and it is not unique to trade. The EU with its Eurozone and Schengen Accord, and the Kyoto Treaty with its exceptions for developing nations are other well-known examples.

IP3 studies variable geometry focusing on the three main exceptions to uniform treatment: RTAs, SDT and plurilateral agreements. The ultimate goal of the project is to explore the possibility of creating new disciplines on the WTO’s variable geometry. For example, instead of SDT based on ill-defined groups, eligibility could be based upon single rules of varied application. Our topic is central to the NCCR’s overarching theme “from fragmentation to coherence” since disciplined variable geometry is one important way of bringing coherence to rules that apply to disparate nations. As such, our theme it is closely related to those of IP1 and IP2.

Project Description in German

SNF - Swiss National Science Foundation The National Centres of Competence in Research are a research instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation