Latin America and the Caribbean is among the fastest growing markets in the world and an important trading partner for many countries. The positive byproducts of this trend include deeper integration and strengthened economic and diplomatic relations with trading partners around the world. However, as trade continues to grow, disputes will naturally arise between nations with respect to a wide range of trade barriers. Often these disputes are addressed within the framework of the World Trade Organization’s Dispute Settlement System.
This document describes the experience of the region in the WTO Dispute Settlement System by analyzing key disputes involving technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and intellectual property. These three areas, although conceptually diverse, have in common dealing with domestic, behind the border regulatory issues, as opposed to traditional trade barriers such as tariffs or import licences. Another common feature of the three areas is that each of them is regulated by a specific multilateral agreement negotiated during the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). This negotiation, which lasted from 1986 to 1994, also resulted in the creation of the WTO.
As the magnitude of border measures has consistently lowered over the last two or three decades, domestic regulatory provisions have acquired an increasing prominence as potential obstacles to trade. To this extent, the analysis of the disputes presented here may point at future trends for Latin America and the Caribbean’s participation in WTO dispute settlement.