New Disciplines for Energy Related Export Restrictions

Balanced multilateral rules on export restrictions represent an important part of a Framework Energy Agreement. Existing disciplines within the WTO and other agreements need to be reviewed in light of the challenges of climate change mitigation and with a view to foster international trade in renewable energy sources.

A comprehensive Framework Energy Agreement aimed at ensuring effective global energy governance needs to address the emerging issue of export restrictions applied to energy resources. Currently, pertinent WTO disciplines are in fact incoherent and highly fragmented, consisting of relevant GATT rules and varying country-specific “WTO-plus” accession requirements agreed by several new WTO Members. Moreover, neither these rules nor the proposals discussed so far on export restrictions within the NAMA Negotiating Group specifically address the need to regulate international trade in energy resources.


As the importance of trade for energy increases, the limits inherent in such fragmentation risk generating dangerous loopholes as export restrictions ultimately induce a de facto dual pricing effect resulting in beggar-thy-neighbour policies. At the same time, however, the potential for climate change mitigation of export restrictions should also be taken into account. This project aims to formulate concrete proposals in this respect, with a view to further enhancing the structure of a possible Framework Energy Agreement. It analyses the imbalances arising out of the current WTO rules. It builds on the recent NAMA proposals with the aim of exploring different ways to bring about coherence in export restrictions regulation. And it contributes to defining specific rules applicable to energy resources.