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The intent of this dictionary was to produce a broad listing of terms, which are commonly used in trade negotiations and especially within the context of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) with a view to providing an information tool for the public at large. The dictionary is presented in the four official languages of the FTAA: English, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

The compilation does not attempt to present the entire universe of terms used nor does it seek to prejudge or to affect in any way definitions or approaches currently proposed by any country in any trade negotiation. In fact, many of the definitions included in the publicly-available Draft FTAA Agreement which are still the subject of difficult debates have been excluded from this dictionary. The definitions are based on widely available source material including other trade agreements.

An alphabetical listing of the terms is included to facilitate the use of the dictionary. The terms and their definitions are presented by general negotiating theme found in the FTAA and in other trade negotiations.

An electronic version of this document can be found on the following websites: IADB, OAS,  and ECLAC.

Advisory Opinion A nonbinding statement by a tribunal of its interpretation of the law or a matter submitted for that purpose.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) A procedure for settling a dispute by means other than litigation, such as arbitration, mediation, or mini-trial.
Amicus curiae (Latin “friend of the court”) A person who is not a party to a lawsuit but who petitions the court/tribunal or is requested by the court/tribunal to file a brief in the action because that person has a strong interest in the subject matter.
Appellate Body An independent body, such as the WTO Appellate Body, that hears appeals by a party to the dispute on issues of law covered in a ruling by a tribunal of first instance, such as a panel.
Applicable law Body of law that the tribunal must consider in rendering a decision on a dispute or claim.
Arbitration A method of dispute resolution involving one or more neutral third parties who are usually agreed to by the disputing parties and whose decision (“award”) is binding.
Cause of action A group of operative facts giving rise to one or more bases for bringing a claim.
Choice of forum Choice of the jurisdiction or tribunal in which a claim might be heard.
Claim The aggregate of operative facts giving rise to a right enforceable by a court/tribunal.
Code of conduct A written set of rules governing the behavior of specified groups. See Customs Procedures, page 23, where this text may have a slightly different meaning.
Complaint The initial pleading that starts a civil action and states the basis for the court’s/tribunal’s jurisdiction, the basis for the plaintiff’s claim, and the demand for relief.
Conciliation An alternative dispute resolution mechanism in which a neutral person meets with the the parties to a dispute and explores how the dispute might be resolved.
Consultations Mechanism by which parties consult or confer on a matter, which may be a prerequisite before seeking the establishment of a panel or tribunal to rule on the matter.
Cross-sector retaliation Retaliation (suspension of benefits) exercised in a sector other than the sector specifically affected by the measure in dispute; e.g., retaliation in the services sector for a measure affecting goods.
Mediation A method of non-binding dispute resolution involving a neutral third party who tries to help the disputing parties reach a mutually agreeable solution.
New York Convention United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, done at New York on June 10, 1958.
Nullification or impairment Basis of a claim under the GATT/WTO dispute settlement system, namely that a benefit accruing to a WTO member directly or indirectly under the Agreement is being nullified or impaired as a result of the failure of another member to carry out its obligations under the Agreement. Non-violation nullification or impairment is a claim that a benefit is being nullified or impaired as a result of the application of a measure whether or not it conflicts with the provisions of the Agreement.
Panel Body of independent experts established to examine and issue recommendations on a dispute.
Party to the dispute Complaining Party or the Party complained against.
Panama Convention Inter-American Convention on International Commercial Arbitration, done in Panama on 30 January, 1975.
Roster List of individuals from which the members of panels may or shall be drawn.
Rules of procedure Rules that prescribe the procedures to be followed by the Panel.
Suspension of benefits Suspension by a Party of benefits or obligations enjoyed by another Party under an Agreement, such as in response to, or retaliation for, non-compliance with a ruling or recommendation by the latter Party. Under the WTO DSU, such suspension or withdrawal of concessions is subject to prior multilateral authorization.
Third party A Party that has notified an interest in a dispute proceeding and is not a Party to the dispute.
WTO Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) WTO agreement resulting from the Uruguay Round that applies to consultations and the settlement of disputes between WTO member countries concerning their rights and obligations under the WTO Agreement.