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International trade law

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Title: International trade law  
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Subject: International trade, Outline of commercial law, Public international law, International economic law, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs
Collection: International Law, International Trade, Trade Policy
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International trade law

International Trade Law includes the appropriate rules and customs for handling trade between countries. However, it is also used in legal writings as trade between private sectors, which is not right. This branch of law is now an independent field of study as most governments has become part of the world trade, as members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Since the transaction between private sectors of different countries is an important part of the WTO activities, this latter branch of law is now a very important part of the academic works and is under study in many universities across the world.


  • Overview 1
  • World Trade Organization 2
  • Trade in goods 3
  • Trade and intellectual property 4
  • Cross-border transactions 5
  • Dispute settlement 6
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


International trade law should be distinguished from the broader field of international economic law. The latter could be said to encompass not only WTO law, but also law governing the international monetary system and currency regulation, as well as the law of international development.

The body of rules for transnational trade in the 21st century derives from medieval commercial laws called the lex mercatoria and lex maritima — respectively, "the law for merchants on land" and "the law for merchants on sea." Modern trade law (extending beyond bilateral treaties) began shortly after the Second World War, with the negotiation of a multilateral treaty to deal with trade in goods: the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

International trade law is based on theories of economic liberalism developed in Europe and later the United States from the 18th century onwards.

International Trade Law is an aggregate of legal rules of “international legislation” and new lex mercatoria, regulating relations in international trade. “International legislation” – international treaties and acts of international intergovernmental organizations regulating relations in international trade. lex mercatoria - "the law for merchants on land". Alok Narayan defines "lex mercatoria" as "any law relating to businesses" which was criticised by Professor Julius Stone. and lex maritima - "the law for merchants on sea. Alok in his recent article criticised this definition to be "too narrow" and "merely-creative". Professor Dodd and Professor Malcolm Shaw of Leeds University supported this proposition.

World Trade Organization

In 1995, the World Trade Organization, a formal international organization to regulate trade, was established. It is the most important development in the history of international trade law.

The purposes and structure of the organization is governed by the Agreement Establishing The World Trade Organization, also known as the "Marrakesh Agreement". It does not specify the actual rules that govern international trade in specific areas. These are found in separate treaties, annexed to the Marrakesh Agreement.

Scope of WTO :

(a) provide framework for administration and implementation of agreements; (b) forum for further negotiations; (c) trade policy review mechanism;and (d) promote greater coherence among members economics policies

Principles of the WTO:

(a) principle of non-discrimination (most-favoured-nation treatment obligation and the national treatment obligation) (b) market access (reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade) (c) balancing trade liberalisation and other societal interests (d) harmonisation of national regulation (TRIPS agreement, TBT agreement, SPS agreement)

Trade in goods

The GATT has been the backbone of international trade law throughout most of the twentieth century. It contains rules relating to "unfair" trading practices — dumping and subsidies.

Trade and intellectual property

The World Trade Organisation Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement required signatory nations to raise intellectual property rights (also known as intellectual monopoly privileges). This arguably has had a negative impact on access to essential medicines in some nations.

Cross-border transactions

Cross-border operations are subject to taxation by more than one country. Commercial activity that occurs among several jurisdictions or countries is called a cross-border transaction. Those involved in any international business development or international trade should be knowledgeable in tax law, as every country enforces different laws on foreign businesses. International tax planning ensures that cross-border businesses stay tax compliant and avoid or lessen double taxation.[1]

Dispute settlement

Most prominent in the area of dispute settlement in international trade law is the WTO dispute settlement system. The WTO dispute settlement body is operational since 1995 and has been very active since then with 369 cases in the time between 1 January 1995 and 1 December 2007.[2] Nearly a quarter of disputes reached an amicable solution, in other cases the parties to the dispute resorted to adjudication. The WTO dispute settlement body has exclusive and compulsory jurisdiction over disputes on WTO law (Article 23.1 Dispute Settlement Understanding[3]).

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ van den Bossche, Peter (2008). The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization - Text, Cases and Materials. Maastricht University: Cambridge University Press. p. 169.  
  3. ^ WTO. "Dispute Settlement Understanding". Retrieved 6 September 2011. 


  • van den Bossche, Peter (2008). The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization - Text, Cases and Materials. Maastricht University: Cambridge University Press. p. 917.  

External links

  • International Bar Association
  • International Trade Center - a UN organization
  • Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa
  • World Trade Institute - at the University of Berne
  • International Trade Debates and Iran
  • World Trade Organization - WTO
  • Federation of International Trade Associations
  • Does Sales-Only Apportionment Violate International Trade Rules? Report suggesting that sales-only apportionment may violate international trade rules that prohibit export sales.
  • B.H. Druzin (2010, Spring). "Law without the State: the Spontaneous Emergence of Commercial Legal Order," Georgetown Journal of International Law 41: 559-620.
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