A Dialogical Approach to Trade and Environment

Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2013

Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 13-6

56 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2013 Last revised: 8 Jul 2013

Date Written: March 1, 2013


Traditionally, supporters of free trade and environmentalists have regarded each other as the obstacle to development, and both sides have very different views as to what constitutes development. This paper considers the various dimensions to international trade governance in the context of the environment and draws from the dialogic theory in comparative constitutional law to frame trade governance regarding the environment in a new way. It uses a dialogical approach to highlight primarily three characteristics of the international trade regime that has fostered enhanced cross-fertilization of trade and environmental issues: 1) the adjudicatory capacity of the WTO and preferential trade agreements (PTA’s); 2) the administrative capacity of the WTO and PTA’s; and 3) the fragmentary nature of trade governance. This approach highlights ways in which these three dynamics have allowed for heightened “cross-fertilization” of environmental concerns into the trade framework, stimulating a form of transnational regulatory bargaining with respect to environmental issues vis à vis trade that reaches beyond the trade realm. Though a close look at these characteristics also illuminates the important role of free trade more generally and the WTO more specifically, in setting a normative vision of environmental sustainability, it also shows that trade regimes are limited in setting a course for addressing sustainable development. In particular, free trade says little about what constitutes sustainable development, especially when also faced with the different challenges for economic development in the developed and developing countries.

Suggested Citation

Trujillo, Elizabeth, A Dialogical Approach to Trade and Environment (March 1, 2013). Journal of International Economic Law, Vol. 16, No. 3, 2013, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 13-6, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2235071 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2235071

Elizabeth Trujillo (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204-6060
United States

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