Are Consumer-Oriented Rules the New Frontier of Trade Liberalization?

60 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2013 Last revised: 26 Nov 2014

See all articles by Sonia E. Rolland

Sonia E. Rolland

Northeastern University - School of Law

Date Written: November 18, 2013


Lead paint toys and tainted baby formula milk from China, along with other scares involving consumer goods, have focused the public’s attention on the risks of a global supply chain that no state controls. Yet, domestic instruments available to protect consumers against unsafe or undesirable foreign goods and services are limited.

This article explores, from a comparative legal perspective, what shapes international trade regimes to be more or less consumer-oriented, using primarily EU law as a counterpoint to the WTO, but also NAFTA and MERCOSUR. Ultimately, the article suggests that the WTO’s producer-centered liberalization focus leaves consumers underserved and seeks to articulate a more holistic understanding of the trade liberalization project that accounts both for producer and consumer interests. Although the WTO may not be the appropriate or optimal forum to fulfill such needs, a more robust examination of the intersection between producer-oriented trade rules and consumer interests is warranted.

JEL Classification: F13, K33

Suggested Citation

Rolland, Sonia Elise, Are Consumer-Oriented Rules the New Frontier of Trade Liberalization? (November 18, 2013). Harvard International Law Journal, Vol. 55, No. 2, pp. 361-419 (2014); Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 165-2013. Available at SSRN:

Sonia Elise Rolland (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law ( email )

400 Huntington Ave.
Boston, 02115
United States
+1 617.37.7331 (Phone)
+1 617.373.5056 (Fax)


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