course
DI064 | Autumn | 6 ECTS

International Trade Law

The global trading regime is in a period of great uncertainty. The traditional leadership role of the United States (US) in the World Trade Organization (WTO) appears to be a thing of the past. Although the Biden administration has softened the US rhetoric vis-à-vis the WTO and multilateralism more generally, it has nevertheless left numerous Trump-era unilateral trade measures and policies in place. The system thus continues to labour under the strain of the US-China 'trade war', a dysfunctional dispute settlement system, general globalization skepticism in international relations, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Many observers expect an era of greater trade restrictions, trade-distorting subsidization and industrial policy interventions. Meanwhile, rapid technological advances are changing economic life, trade flows, as well as trade and industrial policies as we know them. So what does the future hold for global trade governance, the WTO, and its legal system? Which elements of the existing system can and will survive, and which will have to change? Can the WTO, including its unique dispute settlement system, be reformed? Against this complex backdrop, this course offers practical, in-depth knowledge of substantive WTO law and legal policy. We will cover the core disciplines of trade in goods and services as well as the specialized WTO agreements on, for example, health measures, technical standards, subsidies, anti-dumping measures, and intellectual property rights. We will learn how WTO law balances the need to limit protectionism with the need to preserve legitimate policy space at the national level. Students will also become acquainted with the WTO trade dispute settlement system, its procedures as well as its current crisis and the on-going reform efforts. We will also touch on other timely topics such as e-commerce, national security-based trade restrictions, the systemic challenges posed by state capitalism, and industrial policy. Knowledge of these nuts and bolts of international trade law is indispensable for understanding the existing system (including the many bilateral and regional trade agreements, which are modelled on the WTO framework) as well as for understanding and assessing the many reform ideas for the future.