Interpreting “Interconnection”: Hermeneutics of the WTO Mexico-Telecommunications Case

This paper discusses the hermeneutics of the first GATS panel report, Mexico- Telecommunications Case (DS204), with particular reference to its interpretation of the meaning of the word “interconnection” in the Telecommunications Reference Paper. Having noted that the panel report exposed weakness in persuasion because of the tradition of strict literal interpretation, this paper argues for loosening of the WTO interpretative tradition in order to take into account more elements of interpretation in a holistic way.
This paper recommends that it is time for the tribunal to enrich the interpretation rules of the Vienna Convention by taking into account factual contexts at the time of interpretation. This paper also recommends that the WTO tribunal to develop a structured way to consider the object and purpose of a treaty to a meaningful degree even within the ambit of Article 31 of the Vienna Convention. This paper further suggests that the WTO tribunal should be prepared to embrace a more purposeful interpretation of the WTO agreements in a dynamic economy which often involves appearance of new gaps in the web of regulation. Finally, it suggests that the WTO develop mechanisms to carry out some of treaty objectives in cooperation with neighboring institutions, the ITU in this case, and that the WTO tribunal take it into account in balancing the conflicting objectives.