Against the background of the geopolitical superpower confrontation between the United States and China; the ‘weaponization’ of trade in the defence of values and non-economic interests; the unstoppable digitalisation of economic activity; and national and international efforts to address climate change, this course aims to give students a clear understanding of the law governing international trade relations. The course addresses the institutional and substantive rules of the multilateral trading system, i.e. the WTO system, which is currently in crisis. During the first session, the seminar will focus on rule-making and dispute settlement by the WTO as well as on the principal substantive rights and obligations under WTO law. During the second and third session, students will work in group on a number of case studies based on real life situations relating to specific problems of international trade. The case studies will deal with: the resolution of trade disputes (‘Right Over Might’); national treatment under GATT 1994 and GATS ('Beer'); general public policy exceptions under GATT 1994 and GATS (‘Starbucks’ ethical cocoa’); technical barriers to trade (‘Safe Cars’); and subsidies (‘Green Electricity’).
Professor: Peter VAN DEN BOSSCHE