This online symposium is the outcome of a workshop on ‘GVCs, Trade and Development’ hosted by the Kent Law School and IEL collective in July 2020 and supported by the British Academy (Grant no. MD19\190020). The workshop engaged with the policy research literature produced by the World Trade Organisation and World Bank since 2013, in particular their Global Value Chain Development (GVCD) reports of 2017 and 2019.
Free Trade Agreements
The present state of international economic law leaves much to be desired. Anchored by the multilateral General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which led to the creation of the World Trade Organization, and complemented by a vast network of bilateral and multilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements, international economic law is drawn from diffuse sources. Additionally, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and Appellate Body, which interpret the GATT provisions, and arbitral tribunals, which interpret investment protection agreement provisions, shape the content of international economic law. However, the patchwork of treaty text and dispute settlement rulings into a body of law is unraveling.
While international trade has undergone significant structural changes recently, particularly with the proliferation of new generation of free trade agreements (FTAs), the debate on the consequences of IIAs for sustainable development continues to widen and intensify. In effect, while there has been fundamental changes in the international investment landscape in terms of players (now comprising state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds) and FDI direction (with emerging economies now being, not only recipients, but increasingly home states), governments are also now adopting industrial policies and development strategies that contrast with their erstwhile hands-off approach to economic development.