Retooling Trade Agreements for Social Inclusion

45 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2018 Last revised: 25 Mar 2019

See all articles by Gregory Shaffer

Gregory Shaffer

University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: July 20, 2018


International trade law has been oblivious to social inclusion. Although trade is not primarily to blame for rising inequality and social conflict, it is not wholly innocent either. International trade law plays a powerful role in fomenting the conditions under which people thrive, implicating social equality and inclusion. The impacts of trade and rapid technological change on income inequality and the security of work have become politically salient issues in the United States and Europe. They have led to the rise of nativist political parties that threaten to upset the international trade legal order. The outcome could be dire. This Article explains how international trade law can and should be retooled to support social inclusion. By doing so, it can: (1) help combat harmful tax competition, avoidance, and evasion; (2) aid domestic social security and job retraining; (3) support labor protection; (4) deter social dumping; and (5) enable industrial policy experimentation for development. This Article makes concrete proposals.

Suggested Citation

Shaffer, Gregory C., Retooling Trade Agreements for Social Inclusion (July 20, 2018). University of Illinois Law Review, 2019, Forthcoming, UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2019-54, Available at SSRN:

Gregory C. Shaffer (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92612
United States

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