East Asia’s Engagement with Cosmopolitan Ideals Under its Trade Treaty Dispute Provisions

34 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2011

See all articles by C. L. Lim

C. L. Lim

The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Date Written: January 25, 2011


An East Asian view about how trade dispute settlement systems should be designed is slowly emerging. This paper argues that democratically-inspired trade law scholarship and cultural explanations of the international law behaviour of the Southeast and Northeast Asian trading nations have failed to capture or prescribe the actual treaty behaviour of these nations. Instead, such behaviour has resulted in the emergence of two different treaty models for the peaceful settlement of trade disputes. This article traces the practices of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), together with that of China, Korea, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. We find two models of trade dispute settlement emerging. The first, which seems firmly established, may be found in ASEAN’s 2004 dispute settlement protocol and the regimes established under the China-ASEAN, Korea-ASEAN, Japan-ASEAN, and ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTAs. They all adopt a closed, sovereign-centric view of trade dispute settlement with no public access to the dispute proceedings, little or no disclosure of party submissions, and no consultation or access given to non-governmental organization (NGO) briefs. It is a model which may be criticized for its lack of transparency. However, a second model, based on the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement, could in time become an alternative model for an Asia-Pacific-wide FTA (i.e. including the East Asian nations within it). It adopts a more open approach; one which better accommodates greater transparency in dispute proceedings. At least for now, the two models co-exist, obviating the need for East Asia’s legal policy-makers to choose a clear, dominant design for treaty-based trade dispute settlement in the region. But it also means that East Asia’s trading partners can influence East Asian nations, at least in those trade agreements which – like the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement – involve negotiations with trans-continental partners.

Keywords: East Asia, Free Trade Agreements, Transparency, WTO, ASEAN, China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Democracy, Values, Cosmopolitan View, Negotiations, Dispute Settlement, Arbitration

Suggested Citation

Lim, C. L., East Asia’s Engagement with Cosmopolitan Ideals Under its Trade Treaty Dispute Provisions (January 25, 2011). McGill Law Journal, Vol. 56, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1748146

C. L. Lim (Contact Author)

The Chinese University of Hong Kong ( email )

Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong
Hong Kong

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