Think Piece

Reforming Dispute Settlement in Trade: The Contribution of Mega-Regionals

By Stephan W. Schill, Geraldo Vidigal, 
April 2018
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Dispute settlement rules and procedures are an important component of so-called mega-regional trade agreements. Reacting to recurrent criticism of the legitimacy of dispute settlement in international economic law, their characteristics and innovative features are driven by two partly competing and overlapping concerns. First, to decrease the autonomy of dispute settlement mechanisms and their potential to develop into independent institutions of international public authority. Second, to minimise friction with existing multilateral governance mechanisms, particularly under the World Trade Organization (WTO). Given the economic and political weight of the parties involved, the means used in the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement and the (Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for) Trans-Pacific Partnership to address these concerns are likely to influence the development of dispute settlement provisions in future regional trade agreements, as well as negotiations to reform WTO dispute settlement.

The think piece is part of the RTA Exchange on Dispute Settlement project. It is aimed at analysing experiences and best practices, with a view to cultivating creative ideas for global trade policy making and facilitating the enforcement of RTAs, taking into account their practical feasibility and the political realities.

The RTA Exchange, jointly implemented by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), is a platform that convenes purposeful multi-stakeholder dialogues that work in the interest of constructing better trade and investment agreements for sustainable development at the regional and multilateral levels.

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