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This subject examines the law and economics of globalisation. Economic globalisation is at the centre of ongoing debates in areas as diverse as sustainability and climate change, national security, fair and balanced economic growth, and the very restructuring of international relations that seems to be underway. This subject offers a sophisticated understanding not only of contemporary globalisation, but also the reactionary trends that continue to emerge in varied forms: so-called ‘trade wars’ between major economies, unilateral climate measures, restrictions on trade in critical technology like semiconductors or 5G, concerns around forced labour or weak environmental standards, concerns around data protection and cybersecurity in the new digital economy, repatriating foreign supply-chains to the domestic economy, concerns around currency undervaluation by export-driven States, and issues around the so-called ‘State-led’ capitalist model in economies like China. We offer a detailed analysis of these phenomena and how States are using existing and new legal instruments to manage the risks and impacts of globalisation as it evolves and adapts in this new environment. The course caters both to practitioners looking to build expertise in the highly commercially-relevant areas of trade remedies and export controls, as well as to those looking to deepen their understanding of the modern dynamics of globalisation and its intersection with law.
The subject begins with an overview of economic impacts of trade liberalisation and lays out why there are winners and losers. It proceeds with a discussion of current trends in globalisation and relates them to the evolving geopolitical context. It then examines the legal instruments available to States to manage economic pressures resulting from increased globalisation and to counter (potentially) trade-distorting practices of their trade partners. These include the existing legal instruments at the international level under the WTO treaties, such as anti-dumping/anti-subsidy measures and safeguards, as well as more recent innovations at the domestic level relating to matters like currency undervaluation, cybersecurity and “data sovereignty”, transnational subsidies, foreign investment screening, differences in environmental/labour standards, and distortions arising from economies and sectors with substantial government involvement.
The compatibility of such innovations with WTO and other international rules is untested and, accordingly, this course does not express views on the “right” answers. Rather, it seeks to equip students with the knowledge to form their own views and to facilitate their own understanding of possible intersections between these domestic innovations and international rules.
The principal substantive topics that will be addressed in this subject will include:
- The economic rationale behind international trade agreements, the economic benefits of globalisation, the distributional impacts of trade liberalisation, and the role of regulatory frameworks that facilitate adjustment to international competition;
- Current issues in global economic relations and trade policy, and the reasons States resort to legal instruments to manage risks or negative impacts of globalisation, such as concerns around unfair trade practices; an evolving geopolitical context; supply-chain resilience; and "global commons"- and related issues such as climate change.
- The primary legal instruments that States use to address negative economic impacts of trade liberalisation, particularly the ‘trade remedy’ tools under the WTO treaties (anti-dumping, anti-subsidy, and safeguard measures), as well as recent domestic innovations with these tools in areas like transnational subsidies and currency manipulation;
- New and emerging legal tools at the domestic level in jurisdictions like the EU, US, Australia and India to manage perceived geopolitical risks and impacts of globalisation, such as:
- national security concerns around supply chains and critical products
- cybersecurity and data protection in the new digital economy;
- foreign investment screening;
- lower environmental/labour standards; and
- concerns around forced labour.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject should be able to:
- Explain the economic rationale behind international trade agreements, the economic benefits of globalisation, the distributional impacts of trade liberalisation and the role of policy coherence
- Apply knowledge of the existing legal instruments at the international level to address certain economic impacts of trade liberalisation, especially the "trade remedy" tools under the WTO treaties; and justify the economic rationales underlying these tools
- Analyse and contextualise current issues in global trade and trade policy, and why States are innovating with new legal tools for addressing these issues
- Identify and examine new and emerging legal tools at the domestic level for addressing trade distortions.
- Have the communication skills to articulate and convey complex information regarding globalisation to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding controversies surrounding the fallout of globalisation and reactionary trends
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to international trade and investment
- Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of trade remedies law
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal rules
- Be able to interpret and apply, at an advanced level, certain key WTO agreements, including advocating a particular position in a given hypothetical, potential or past case
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate creative and critical ideas relating to international trade and investment, particularly in view of the current geopolitical challenges generally, as well as specific competitiveness-concerns relating to the environment (climate change), labour, national security, and State-led capitalist models, and be able to develop their own thinking in light of the descriptive and factual nature of the subject.
Last updated: 10 November 2023