Challenges in Multilateral and Regional Trade Governance

Rachel Brewster and Giovanni Gruni

This course will explore how trade relations between states are negotiated and governed in regional and multilateral institutions.  The course highlights the pluralistic and overlapping structure of modern international trade law where dozens of preferential trade agreements supplement and compete with the WTO’s multilateral trade rules.  The course will focus on two specific challenges to the international trade system – the question of how to negotiated food security concerns and issues related to resolving disputes over trade agreements.  In the first half, the course will explore how shifting food prices can leave vulnerable populations without access to sufficient food resources and how regional and multilateral agreements have separately addressed such food security concerns.  This part of the course examines how specific trade policy tools, such as subsidies, export restrictions, and stockpiling regimes, are negotiated between governments and affect the availability of food resources.  The second half focuses on how states resolve disputes once agreements have been negotiated, both in the food security context and for other issues.  This part continues the course’s examination the interaction between regional regimes and the multilateral system.  Issues include who has standing to bring claims, the remedies available when breaches occur, and how to manage similar and competing claims in different institutional fora.  This part also examines a range of possible mechanisms to enforce agreements, including retaliation, monetary penalties, voluntary financial compensation, and renegotiation.  In particular, this part will focus on the limits of dispute resolution for issues such as food security and innovative means for addressing such crises.