Trade and Inequality: Economic Justice and the Developing World

77 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2000


This article develops a Rawlsian framework for the evaluation of the justice of contemporary international trade law. Given the problem of inequality between states, liberal justification of the contemporary international economic system requires wealthier states to pursue redistributive policies through international trade law, as a consequence of an international version of Rawls' second principle of justice. In fact, international trade law recognizes the principle of special and different treatment towards developing states, which under this analysis can be seen as one response to the redistributive imperative. If so, then contemporary special and differential treatment practice in the WTO and in U.S. hemispheric trade policy, and in the contemplated Free Trade Area of the Americas, must be significantly reformed if special and differential treatment is to serve as a policy through which wealthier states can discharge their moral obligations, and the article concludes with recommendations for appropriate changes.

Keywords: trade, development, justice, special and differential treatment, Rawls

Suggested Citation

Garcia, Frank Joseph, Trade and Inequality: Economic Justice and the Developing World. FSU College of Law, Public Law Working Paper No. 18, Boston College Law School Research Paper No. 2000-02, Available at SSRN: or

Frank Joseph Garcia (Contact Author)

Boston College - Law School ( email )

885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States

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