Beyond Normal Trade Law?
Room 920, Level 9
Melbourne Law School
185 Pelham Street
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The completion of the Uruguay Round in 1994 and the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) seemed to mark the achievement of normal trade law, both in the sense of normalising regulation of international trade relations by legal norms and institutions and in the sense of a normal content of trade law involving significant international convergence rather than sovereign diversity. Both of these senses of normal trade law now are strained. The stalemate at the WTO, the turn to preferential agreements and the return of belligerent unilateralism and 'dealing' notably in economic relations between the United States and China, all suggest the need to interrogate again the legal context in which global trade and investment is embedded. Likewise, the characterisation of an expanding domain of trade as involving national security normalises exceptions rather than generating legal disciplines.
Going forward, trade law will likely emphasise less convergent substantive concepts such as exceptions, differential treatment, interface and variable geometry. But normal trade law will also involve a return to a more open role for international politics (including negotiation, threats and conflict), as well as a normal role for law better understood through the frames of transnational law and legal pluralism. The normal role of international law in such an order may need to change, including to self-consciously evolve its strategies of inter-legality.
This event is a collaboration between the Institute for International Law and the Humanities, the Asian Law Centre and the Global Economic Law Network.