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Trump, trade tariffs, World Trade Organization, trade war, USA, China
The recent ‘Trump tariffs’ have heralded concerns about a blooming ‘trade war’ between the US and China. These unilateral measures are a threat to the substance of international trade law. In part, this is due to questions the measures raise about the interpretation of the Article XXI ‘Security Exception’ in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It is feared that an expansive reading of Article XXI would undermine the World Trade Organization (WTO) by allowing ‘anything under the sun’ to be considered ‘necessary’ for the protection of ‘essential security interests’. This paper argues that WTO Members should respond by narrowing the scope of the exception. This paper also acknowledges, however, that too narrow a reading of the exception also poses problems, as this would reduce the ability of member states to introduce legitimate regulations in regard to national security interests.