LLM International Trade Law

Module description:

This module explores the rules governing international trade, focusing in particular on WTO law. It will introduce students to the foundations as well as some of the topical issues in international trade law and policy. While concentrating on the law governing the world trading system, the legal debate will be continuously linked with the policy debate raised by the several issues of globalization, free trade and protection of non-economic values. Quite often, reference will be made to economic and political arguments. The module will be based on a seminarial approach requiring serious pre-class reading, preparation and thinking on the part of the students, in order to have a fruitful discussion in class. The module covers a wide range of specific topics, including:

  • International trade governance: the pros and cons of free trade and the need for international trade rules
  • A brief history of the GATT and the WTO, and brief reference to the other institutions whose powers may have an impact on trade, such as the IMF, and the World Bank.
  • The institutional analysis of the WTO: organizational structure of the WTO and its decision-making; amendment of WTO instruments; rules of interpretation; the debate on its future
  • The system of dispute settlement, focussing in particular on the issues connected to the participation of third parties and the (effective) implementation of rulings and recommendations (so-called 'compliance' problem)
  • The main rules of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
  • The functioning and the main rules of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), with a case-study on the impact of the GATS on the national regulation of public services
  • The interplay between international trade rules and environmental protection measures
  • The rise of economic nationalism and the security exception in the multilateral trading system
  • The participation of developing countries in the WTO: the adequacy of special and differential treatment
  • The rise of populism and the threat to multilateralism and the WTO
  • Preferential trade agreements (PTAs): the regionalism versus multilateralism debate, the WTO rules on PTAs, the taxonomy of PTAs