Are World Trading Rules Passé?

45 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2012 Last revised: 13 Aug 2013

See all articles by Sungjoon Cho

Sungjoon Cho

Chicago Kent College of Law

Claire Kelly

Brooklyn Law School

Date Written: June 20, 2012


This Article probes the previously underexplored failure of the world trading rules to keep abreast with the global marketplace. It argues that the global trading system, despite its well-documented contribution to the spectacular expansion of postwar trade, has never in fact fully moved away from the mercantilist past, its monolinear conception of production and trading patterns, and its state-centric, top-down paradigm of rule making. The inevitable anachronism precipitated by the out-of-date trading-rules structure is seriously ill suited to the contemporary nonterritorial international business transactions defined by global supply chains. Consequently, while the trading rules officially seek to help facilitate trade consistent with the theory of comparative advantage, they often entail diametrically opposite effects, that is, clogging the arteries of global commerce. This Article concludes that burgeoning “trade networks” can offer an answer to these problems as these networks vigorously co-opt relevant epistemic communities and devise practical tools to confront the complex challenges faced by global businesses nowadays.

Keywords: Global trading rules, World trading rules, Global marketplace, Mercantilism, Trade networks, Transfer pricing networks, Trade statistics networks, Free trade

JEL Classification: F02, F10, F20, F30, F40, K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Cho, Sungjoon and Kelly, Claire, Are World Trading Rules Passé? (June 20, 2012). Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 53, 2013, Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 301, Society of International Economic Law (SIEL), 3rd Biennial Global Conference, Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper No. 2013-29, Available at SSRN: or

Sungjoon Cho (Contact Author)

Chicago Kent College of Law ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States

Claire Kelly

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

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