WTO Decisions and Their Effect in U.S. Law

Publication Date: July 2008

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Trade

Type: Report


Congress has comprehensively dealt with the legal effect of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and dispute settlement results in the United States in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), P.L. 103-465, which provides that domestic law prevails over conflicting provisions of WTO agreements and prohibits private remedies based on alleged violations of these agreements. As a result, WTO agreements and adopted WTO rulings in conflict with federal law do not have domestic legal effect unless and until Congress or the Executive Branch, as the case may be, takes action to modify or remove the statute, regulation, or regulatory practice at issue. Violative state laws may be withdrawn by the state or, in rare circumstances, invalidated through legal action by the federal government. In addition, the URAA places requirements on regulatory action and the issuance of new trade remedy determinations in implementation of adverse WTO decisions. S. 364 (Rockefeller) would amend the URAA to require that Congress expressly approve any regulatory modification or final rule proposed to implement an adverse WTO ruling and would rescind certain regulatory actions that have already entered into effect. This report will be updated.