An event organised by UCL’s Institute for Global Law
The moribund state of Doha Round WTO negotiations has heightened concerns about the impact of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) on the progress of global trade liberalization. PTAs have proliferated over the past two decades. There are approximately 300 PTAs now in force, and all but one WTO member is now party to a PTA. The nature of PTAs is also rapidly evolving, with agreements encompassing issue areas beyond WTO commitments and increasingly involving developing countries.
Compared with an ideal world of multilateral free trade, the welfare implications of PTAs are deeply troubling. However, considered in the actual context of persistent barriers to global trade, the theoretical and empirical literature is ambivalent on whether PTAs enhance or detract from global welfare. This is an issue unlikely to be resolved, and the debate has now moved beyond whether PTAs should be categorically opposed. PTAs are firmly entrenched in the law and politics of international trade. The question is how the relationship between these two modes of trade liberalization can best be managed to enhance complementarities and minimize conflicts.
The paper identifies key challenges to multilateralism posed by the growing number and changing nature of PTAs. Lessons are drawn from the international investment regime, where, in the absence of a comprehensive multilateral treaty governing investment, over 2600 bilateral investment treaties (BITs) have been formed in the past 20 years. Recommendations are made for reform at the WTO and in the institutional design of PTAs, with a view to safeguarding the multilateral trading system in the context of PTA proliferation.
About the speaker
Michael J. Trebilcock is Professor of Law and Economics at the University of Toronoto School of Law. He graduated from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in 1962 with an LL.B. and completed his LL.M. at the University of Adelaide in 1965. He joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto in 1972. He was selected as a University Professor in 1990.
Professor Trebilcock specializes in Law and Economics, International Trade Law, Competition Law, Economic and Social Regulation, and Contract Law and Theory.
He was a Fellow in Law and Economics at the University of Chicago Law School in 1976, a Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School in 1985 and 2005, and a Global Law Professor at New York University Law School in 1997 and 1999. He will be a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School in 2011-2012. In 1987 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 1999, Professor Trebilcock received an Honorary Doctorate in Laws from McGill University and was awarded the Canada Council Molson Prize in the Humanities and Social Sciences. In the same year (1999) he was elected an Honorary Foreign Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2002 Professor Trebilcock was elected President of the American Law and Economics Association. In 2007 he was the recipient of the Ontario Attorney General’s Mundell Medal for contributions to Law and Letters. In 2010, he was the recipient of the Ontario Premier’s Discovery Award for the Social Sciences.
Professor Trebilcock has published on many subjects and has won awards for his work, including in 1989 the Owen Prize by the Foundation for Legal Research for his book, The Common Law of Restraint of Trade, which was chosen as the best law book in English published in Canada in the past two years. Since 1989, he has authored The Limits of Freedom of Contract and co-authored The Regulation of International Trade; Exploring the Domain of Accident Law: Taking the Facts Seriously; The Making of the Mosaic: A History of Canadian Immigration Policy; Economic Shocks: Defining a Role for Government; The Law and Economics of Canadian Competition Policy; and Rule of Law Reform and Development: Charting the Fragile Path of Progress (co-authored with Ron Daniels). In 2008, he undertook a review of the Legal Aid Program in Ontario for the Attorney-General.
Dr Ioannis Lianos, UCL
DATE: Thursday 3 May 2012
TIME: 1 – 2pm
VENUE: UCL Law Faculty, Bentham House, Endsleigh Gardens, London WC1H 0EG
You must register online here