The repeated application of safety precautions in relation to a particular product is limited by the agreement. Normally, a safeguard clause may be reapplied to a product only after the expiry of a period corresponding to the duration of the initial safeguard measure, provided that the period of non-application is at least two years. A safeguard measure should not be applied to small quantities of developing countries. This means that where imports from a single developing country do not represent more than 3 % of the total imports of the product concerned and where developing country Members below this threshold do not represent more than 9 % of those imports on an individual basis, those imports are exempted from the measure. Determining the increased volume of imports that a Member must make before it can apply a safeguard measure can result in either an absolute increase or an increase in domestic production. When applying a safeguard measure, the Member shall maintain a substantially equivalent level of concessions and other obligations towards the exporting Members concerned. Appropriate commercial compensation funds may be agreed with the members concerned for this proposal. In the absence of such an agreement, the exporting Members concerned may individually suspend concessions and other substantially equivalent obligations. The latter right may not be exercised during the first three years of application of a safeguard measure if the measure is taken on the basis of an absolute increase in imports and is otherwise in conformity with the provisions of the Agreement. Apart from the general requirement that safeguard measures may be applied only to the extent necessary to remedy or prevent serious injury and to facilitate adaptation, the Agreement does not provide guidance on how the level of a safeguard measure should take the form of an increase in the duty beyond the limit rate.
The WTO Safeguard Agreement took further steps with the prohibition of grey area measures and the setting of time limits (sunset clause) for all protective measures. Members who apply protective measures must generally pay for them by paying compensation. A Member applying a safeguard measure shall maintain a substantially equivalent level of concessions and other obligations towards the exporting Members concerned. On the basis of this proposal, appropriate means of commercial compensation may be agreed between the members concerned through consultation. In the absence of such a compensation agreement within 30 days, the exporting members concerned may individually suspend concessions and other substantially equivalent obligations (i.e. retaliation), unless the Council for Trade in Goods disapproves of it. The maximum duration of a safeguard measure is four years, unless it is extended in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement. In particular, a measure may be extended only if it is necessary to maintain it in order to prevent or remedy serious injury and only if there is evidence that the industry is making adjustments.
Where a safeguard clause has been used to protect a particular sector, additional safeguards to protect the same sector cannot be taken for a certain period after the expiry of the initial safeguard measure. For example, if a protective measure has been in place for a particular product for three years, the importing country usually has to wait another three years before applying a new safeguard measure to the same product. Article 1 stipulates that the SG Agreement is the instrument by which the measures provided for in Article XIX of the GATT 1994 may be applied. That is, any measure for which the scope of Article XIX (which allows for the suspension of GATT concessions and commitments in established emergency situations) is invoked must be taken in accordance with the provisions of the SG Agreement. .