The Energy Charter Treaty's trade provisions, which were initially based on the trading regime of the GATT, were modified by the adoption in April 1998 of a Trade Amendment to the Treaty.
This brought the Treaty's trade provisions into line with the rules and practices of the World Trade Organisation. The shared principles underpinning both the Energy Charter Treaty's approach and that of the WTO are non-discrimination, transparency and a commitment to the progressive liberalisation of international trade. The Trade Amendment also expands the Treaty's scope to cover trade in energy-related equipment, and set out a mechanism for introducing in future a legally-binding stand-still on customs duties and charges for energy-related imports and exports.
The Treaty's amended trade regime represents an important stepping stone for those six of its Signatory states* which have not yet acceded to the WTO. It allows them to familiarise themselves with the practices and disciplines that WTO membership entails, through application of its rules "by reference" to trade in energy materials and products and energy-related equipment.
* Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan (as of March 2013)
The Trade Amendment entered into force on 21 January 2010. In accordance with Articles 42 and 44 of the Energy Charter Treaty, for the Trade Amendment to enter into force, it had to be ratified by at least thirty-five ECT member states and this number has been reached.
Details on the status of ratification of the Trade Amendment to the Energy Charter Treaty, as of August 2012, are available here.