The WTO as a ‘facilitator’ in the harmonisation of domestic trade laws Asif H Qureshi University of Manchester Introduction Obstacles and distortions to international trade can be embedded in differences in national trade related legislation. Harmonisation of domestic trade legislation is the subject of reciprocity in multilateral trade negotiations, and a matter of national policy space. 2015/4/10 WTO role in the harmonisation of domestic trade legislation considered a heresy --- as resonating of a genre of ‘WTO Conditionality’ --- an unwarranted intrusion in domestic policy space of members. Process of Harmonisation Advantages and disadvantages of harmonisation and the governance framework of the harmonisation process. 2015/4/10 Unidirectional but can also be multidirectional, international, voluntary, or arise as a matter of osmosis spontaneously from the fact of membership. The WTO harmonisation mandate? Reference to achieving greater coherence in global economic policy-making? (Article III (5) of the Marrakesh Agreement). Reciprocity Expressly advocated in some of the agreements. Focus mainly in three different normative spheres viz., Qualifications and standards with respect to goods and services; intellectual property rights and customs related issues. 2015/4/10 No carte blanche mandate to harmonise. Obligation to bring in conformity domestic laws with WTO obligations? (Article XVI (4) of the Marrakesh Agreement) WTO Agreements Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade GATS TRIPS Agreement on Rules of Origin 2015/4/10 Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Generally 2015/4/10 Optional rather than necessarily prescriptive. Minimal rather than exhaustive. Programmatic rather than accomplished. It is derivative rather than formulated ab initio. Normatively specific. Incentivised through built-in presumptions of validity. The processes in the WTO that facilitate harmonisation Reasonableness of a legislative measure Harmonisation through technical assistance and transparency Workshops and training sessions Model legislation 2015/4/10 Prior-harmonisation Accession negotiations. Harmonisation through Trade Policy Reviews Recent China, EU and US trade policy reviews Harmonisation and Dispute Settlement Common Understanding Article 31 (3) (c) VCLT1969 EC-Aircraft AB (2011) a priori aspect of DS Conclusion 2015/4/10 WTO role in the harmonisation of domestic trade legislation : nuanced, qualified and limited.