Safeguard measures

A WTO member may take a “safeguard” action (i.e., restrict imports of a product temporarily) to protect a specific domestic industry from an increase in imports of any product which is causing, or which is threatening to cause, serious injury to the industry.

Safeguard measures were always available under the GATT (Article XIX). However, they were infrequently used, and some governments preferred to protect their industries through “grey area” measures (“voluntary” export restraint arrangements on products such as cars, steel and semiconductors).

The WTO Safeguards Agreement broke new ground in prohibiting “grey area” measures and setting time limits (“sunset clause”) on all safeguard actions.

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Basic introduction to the Safeguards Agreement
Links to the safeguards section of the WTO guide, “Understanding the WTO”

More technical explanations

Overview of the Safeguards Agreement


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The mandate 

The Safeguards Agreement: a detailed explanation

Browse or download the text of the “Safeguards Agreement” from the legal texts gateway

Find decisions of WTO bodies concerning the Safeguards Agreement in the Analytical Index — Guide to WTO Law and Practice


Notification obligations
Committee meetings


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Work on safeguard measures in the WTO, and official documents 

The Committee on Safeguards monitors, and reports annually to the Goods Council, on the general implementation of the agreement. A member affected by a safeguard measure may ask the committee to make a finding on whether the measure complies with the agreement’s procedural requirements. At the request of members, the committee may assist consultations, or review proposals for retaliatory action. It monitors the phase-out of the notified “grey-area” measures, and reviews all safeguard notifications. The current chair is .

Work in the Safeguards Committee

Search Documents Online
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  • Annual reports of the committee to the General Council (Document code varies)   > search   > help
  • Minutes of the Safeguards Committee (Document code G/SG/M/*)   > search   > help
  • Working documents of the Safeguards Committee (Document code G/SG/W/*)
      > search

Other official safeguards documents

Search Documents Online
Safeguards documents use the code G/SG/* (where * takes additional values)
These links open a new window: allow a moment for the results to appear.

> help with downloading these documents

  • General documents of the Safeguards Committee (Document code G/SG/*)
      > search
  • Disputes (requests for consultations) involving the Safeguards Committee (Document code G/SG/D*)   > search
  • Notifications by individual members (Document code G/SG/N/*)
      > search
  • Questions and replies by members to notification submitted: (Document code G/SG/Q1/* or G/SG/Q2/*)
      > search
  • Questions and replies by specific members to notifications submitted: (Document code G/SG/Q1/*)
      > search

You can perform more sophisticated searches from the Documents Online search facility (opens in new window) by defining multiple search criteria such as document symbol (i.e. code number), full text search or document date.


> Consult the Guide to downloading files.

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Statistics on safeguard measures 

The data presented in the tables below are based on the notifications made by WTO Members to the Committee on Safeguards during the relevant periods, and are accurate only to the extent Members have made the relevant notification. The information in the tables will be updated periodically. Data in the tables have been updated as of 31 December 2022.