School of Law

CfIG Colloquium with Professor Robert Wai, Osgoode Hall, on Normal Trade Law

13 March 2012 | 5.00pm - 6.30pm | Seminar
School of Law, University of Leeds, The Liberty Building

In the pre-WTO era, the concept of Normal Trade was used in a variety of ways including to explore international trade relations possible among states with diverse forms of domestic markets. The WTO era of international trade regulation signaled new assumptions about convergence enabling liberalized trade, and associated with that the role that law would play in the definition and conduct of such normal trade relations.

In more recent years, however, hopes for the legal order centered around the WTO have faded. This paper uses the concept of Normal Trade Law to explore several ways in which we see a changed debate about what is normal for international trade law. 

These include:

(a) a policy shift that undermines the primacy of open trade as the shared objective of normal trade and shifts to a more contested discussion in which open trade is only one objective among a variety of other economic and social policy concerns for trade law;

(b) an associated shift in legal reasoning in trade law from formalism towards a form of legal reasoning involving pragmatic balancing;

(c) a renewed emphasis on bilateralism, regionalism and variable geometries, rather than comprehensive multilateralism;

(d) pluralism with respect to the relevant legal regimes that are considered trade law;

(e) the prominence of mixed orders of trade law like the investment treaty regime or the regulation of trade remedies. 

The overall result is a trade law in which WTO law plays a more circumscribed role vis-à-vis other forms of law as well as vis-à-vis more traditional forms of politics in international economic relations.

Location Details

Moot Court Room (LT 1.28)
School of Law
The Liberty Building
University of Leeds

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