The Energy Charter Treaty's trade provisions, which were initially based on the trading regime of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (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 Organization (WTO). 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 Energy Charter Treaty's amended trade regime represents an important stepping stone for its Signatory states (see list below) which have not yet acceded to the WTO (as of March 2013). 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.