Chicago Journal of International Law


This Article uses the occasion of Saudi Arabia's accession bid to examine whether GATT applies to trade restrictions imposed solely for foreign policy purposes. It finds that an exception for measures motivated by foreign policy would be inconsistent with the language, structure, usage, purpose, and history of GATT. However, some foreign policy-oriented boycotts could be sustained under specific GATT provisions, such as Article XXI's exceptions for national security. This Article then considers the implications of these findings for the WTO accession of nations, like Saudi Arabia, that adhere to the Arab League Boycott. While the discussion of the purported foreign policy exception will be general, it will often focus on the Arab League Boycott, and Saudi Arabia's role in it, as the main example. This is because the Boycott is the oldest, broadest, and most systematic set of foreign policy trade restrictions in place today and because Saudi Arabia's imminent accession makes its role in the Boycott an urgent question for international trade policy.