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The Fragmentation of International Trade Law: Is Now the Time for Variable Geometry?

The Fragmentation of International Trade Law: Is Now... 1. INTRODUCTION This article deals with international trade law at various levels of governance: unilateral, bilateral, regional, plurilateral, and multilateral. Multilateralism has dominated international relations in the various fields of international economic law such as international trade law and international monetary law after World War 11-thereby giving birth to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO) and to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), respectively. The thesis of this article is that the nature of international trade law is fragmented and cyclical. At first, international trade agreements were bilateral. Then came the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which multilateralized bilateral trade agreements. Years later, international trade law saw the collapse of multilateralism in 1979, which broke down during the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations. A series of new plurilateral (or selectively multilateral) agreements were adopted during the Tokyo Round, which caused a fragmentation of the multilateral trading system.' In 1994, international trade law was again multilateralized with the World Trade Organization Agreement. In 2008, in the midst of the most serious global economic crisis since the Great Depression, it seemed pertinent to reforni the system of global economic governance. A Group of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of World Investment and Trade Brill

The Fragmentation of International Trade Law: Is Now the Time for Variable Geometry?

Journal of World Investment and Trade , Volume 12 (2): 51 – Jan 1, 2011

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1660-7112
eISSN
2211-9000
DOI
10.1163/221190011X00166
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

1. INTRODUCTION This article deals with international trade law at various levels of governance: unilateral, bilateral, regional, plurilateral, and multilateral. Multilateralism has dominated international relations in the various fields of international economic law such as international trade law and international monetary law after World War 11-thereby giving birth to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO) and to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), respectively. The thesis of this article is that the nature of international trade law is fragmented and cyclical. At first, international trade agreements were bilateral. Then came the 1947 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which multilateralized bilateral trade agreements. Years later, international trade law saw the collapse of multilateralism in 1979, which broke down during the Tokyo Round of multilateral trade negotiations. A series of new plurilateral (or selectively multilateral) agreements were adopted during the Tokyo Round, which caused a fragmentation of the multilateral trading system.' In 1994, international trade law was again multilateralized with the World Trade Organization Agreement. In 2008, in the midst of the most serious global economic crisis since the Great Depression, it seemed pertinent to reforni the system of global economic governance. A Group of

Journal

Journal of World Investment and TradeBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2011

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