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UCLA Journal of International Law and Foreign Affairs
ARTICLE: THE ROLE OF THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE REGIME IN GLOBAL GOVERNANCE
UCLA Journal of International Law & Foreign Affairs
16 UCLA J. Int'l L. & For. Aff. 209
The international trade regime - the network of bilateral, regional and multilateral international agreements, sometimes with corresponding institutions, that administers international rules related to trade - has expanded considerably since its origins in the 19th century. In its early years, the trade regime was limited in scope, focusing mainly on tariff reductions. Later, recognizing that countries could protect domestic industries through measures other than tariffs, it grew to a broader notion of non-discrimination, covering border measures, such as tariffs and quotas, and also domestic laws that discriminated against foreign goods. More recently, though, the trade regime has added many new policy areas to its scope. The rules in modern trade agreements go far beyond traditional notions of non-discrimination, promoting more general principles such as international harmonization of laws, various types of rights (property, intellectual property, and labor, for example), and policies such as environmental protection. The trade regime has reached a point where it plays a very important role in global governance, perhaps more important than any other international institution or agreement.
This expansion has generated a great deal of concern among a range of groups from different parts of the political spectrum and from around the world. Arguably, it has caused problems with the functioning of the regime itself by exacerbating the differences in policy views among World Trade Organization (WTO) Members (there is now more to disagree about). As a result, the WTO, the multilateral ...
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