Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1794274
 


 



The Fragmentation of International Trade Law: Is Now the Time for Variable Geometry?


Rafael Leal-Arcas


Queen Mary University of London - School of Law

March 22, 2011

The Journal of World Investment and Trade, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 145-195, 2011

Abstract:     
This article deals with international trade law at various levels of governance. Multilateralism has dominated international relations in the various fields of international economic law such as international trade law and international monetary law after World War II - thereby giving birth to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/Word Trade Organization (WTO) and to the International Monetary Fund, respectively.

At first, international trade agreements were bilateral. Then came the GATT 1947, which multilateralized bilateral trade agreements. Years later, international trade law saw the collapse of multilateralism in 1979, which broke down during the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations. A series of new plurilateral (or selectively multilateral) agreements were adopted during the Tokyo Round, which caused a fragmentation of the multilateral trading system. In 1994, international trade law was again multilateralized with the WTO Agreement.

This article suggests variable geometry (that is, the idea that only a few WTO Members will benefit from plurilateral agreements on several topics on the agenda) and sectoral agreements as the way forward to unblock the multilateral trading system. The variable-geometry approach has the advantage of removing the current frustration at the WTO negotiating table - and sometimes violent protests organized by civil society - with its slow negotiating pace.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 52

Keywords: fragmentation, international trade law, multilateralism, plurilateralism, regionalism, bilateralism, unilateralism, variable geometry, sectoral agreements

JEL Classification: F1, K33

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Date posted: March 28, 2011 ; Last revised: June 4, 2011

Suggested Citation

Leal-Arcas, Rafael, The Fragmentation of International Trade Law: Is Now the Time for Variable Geometry? (March 22, 2011). The Journal of World Investment and Trade, Vol. 12, No. 2, pp. 145-195, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1794274

Contact Information

Rafael Leal-Arcas (Contact Author)
Queen Mary University of London - School of Law ( email )
London
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://www.ccls.qmul.ac.uk/staff/lealarcas.html
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