Tag: WTO

Modest Gains at the WTO Ministerial Conference

David Collins

The 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference took place in Geneva last week with representatives of all 164 member countries in attendance – collectively comprising the WTO’s highest decision-making body. The stakes were high – there have been no major multilateral trade initiatives in decades, leaving the 27-year-old organization struggling to justify its existence in a world increasingly dominated by bilateralism or worse, economic isolationism. In the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine, both of which have dealt significant blows to standards of living worldwide, the WTO was under much pressure to deliver tangible progress in trade liberalization. In the minds of many, failure was simply not an option.

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The WTO’s Essential Security Exception and Revocation of Russia’s Most Favoured Nation Status following the Invasion of Ukraine

David Collins

Shortly after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, several nations, led by Canada and Ukraine, suspended the application of the World Trade Organization’s Most Favoured Nation (MFN) treatment to Russian goods. MFN is a foundational principle of WTO law, contained in Article I of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It promises that all WTO members will receive the same treatment as each other – the lowest tariffs on all goods offered by each WTO member will be made available to all. The effect of this trade sanction against Russia will not be lost on its president – Vladimir Putin’s masters’ thesis was allegedly on the importance of the MFN principle to international trade. The actual impact of the revocation of MFN on Russia may be less significant and the legal issues behind it are complex and troubling.

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The Benevolent Hegemon? A Book Discussion of ‘The EU as a Global Regulator for Environmental Protection’ by Dr. Ioanna Hadjiyianni

Eva Pander Maat

On 20 April 2021, a panel of esteemed experts convened to discuss the book ‘The EU as a Global Regulator for Environmental Protection’ by Dr. Ioanna Hadjiyianni. The Webinar was organised by the Institute for the Study of European Laws (ISEL) and Professor Elaine Fahey, the Jean Monnet Chair in Law and Transatlantic Relations at City, University of London, who also moderated the event. This blog post revisits key points raised during the webinar and summarizes its conclusions.

Hadjiyianni’s book applies a critical transnational lens to the EU’s regulatory power in global environmental governance. It focuses on Internal Environmental Measures with Extraterritorial Implications (IEMEIs): unilateral measures which regulate trade based on conduct which takes place beyond EU borders. The book evaluates IEMEIs from a legitimacy perspective. Whilst access to the EU market is technically optional, it often cannot easily be forgone by third country businesses. This yields IEMEIs significant coercive effects, which gives rise to external legitimacy gaps. These occur across three main fronts: accountability, participation and representation, and access to justice. The main objective of the book is to map the enabling and constraining role of the law in the legitimacy of IEMEIs, focusing on EU and WTO law. The book takes an impressively comprehensive and systemic approach to a pertinent phenomenon in EU law and global environmental governance. This rightfully led it to be shortlisted for the prestigious SLS Peter Birks Book Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship 2020. It is therefore unsurprising that Hadjiyianni’s book is praised by all discussants for its thoroughness and offered ample material for an engaging, multi-faceted discussion which could easily have continued far beyond the webinar.

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New UK- Singapore trade agreement could help shape global rules on digital trade

David Collins

The UK signed two more free trade agreements (FTAs) this past week, adding to the already impressive total of 57 and nearly £200 billion worth of trade that many sceptics had felt would be impossible once outside the EU’s protective sphere. By making further ground in Asia (after the success with Japan) the UK is in a strong position to help establish global rules in the vitally important sphere of digital trade, now one of the focal points of economic activity in many sectors.

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