The Balance between 'Public Morals' and Trade Liberalization: Analysis of the Application of Article XX (A) of the GATT in the EC-SEAL Products Dispute

Qiaozi Guanglin


With the development of international society, public morals attract increasing attention from states. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (hereinafter GATT)stipulates a series of exceptions that can justify states’ inconsistent acts with the GATT, among which “public morals” is hardly claimed by state parties, with the EC-Seal Product dispute being the first case that WTO dispute settlement organs has to consider such public moral exception as a distinct basis for trade restrictive measures. This article will analyze what kind of public morals can be justified when implementing trade restrictive measures and what procedures should be followed. In the meantime, the most important concern is how to avoid the application of Article XX (a) of GATT being abused as a shelter for trade protectionism.


public morals; GATT; WTO law

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