What is GATT Article 24?

Article 24 is a provision of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). The GATT is a World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement aimed at reducing tariffs and other barriers to trade in goods across the world. Ordinarily under WTO rules, tariffs and other barriers applied to goods coming from other countries must be the same for all WTO members. This is known as the most-favoured nation principle.

However, the GATT provides several means for members to negotiate agreements among themselves in order to reduce barriers selectively without having to apply the same benefits to all WTO members: one of these is Article 24. Its main purpose is to ensure that barriers are not raised to other WTO members as a result of these agreements.

In principle, Article 24 also allows members to reach ‘interim’ agreements so they can offer preferential treatment prior to the implementation of a full agreement. However, this can be a cumbersome process and is now rarely used. Both parties would have to actively seek an interim agreement. Article 24 does not compel them to enter into one or allow members to automatically roll over existing trade terms if leaving an agreement.

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