When the United States and Canada agreed to replace U.S. judicial review of trade-remedy cases with a new dispute mechanism under Chapter 19 of the Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement (now the North American Free Trade Agreement), the U.S. Congress and trade negotiators expected that the new dispute settlement panels would apply U.S. law and the standard of review in the same manner as U.S. courts. This requirement was embodied in the text of the agreement and has at least nominally been applied by Chapter 19 panels ever since. Empirical analysis of seventeen years of decisions now allows a conclusion with a high degree of confidence that this has not been the case. Chapter 19 panels are far more likely than U.S. courts to overturn U.S. agency decisions. Not only that, but Chapter 19 panels have produced outcomes more favorable to Canadian importers than have U.S. courts. This outcome illustrates that the facial legal terms of an international agreement may give a misleading impression of how it will actually be implemented, and suggests that greater attention must be paid to how it will be interpreted and by whom.


NAFTA, International Trade, Chapter 19 Panels, Trade Remedy Law, AD/CVD Law, Dispute Settlement, Agency Review, Chapter 19, Judicial Review

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Journal of Empirical Legal Studies

Publication Information

5 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 171 (2008)


COinS Juscelino F. Colares Faculty Bio