GLB: International Trade and Investment Law

Provided by: Tilburg
Bachelor's degree (EQF level: 6)

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

explain and evaluate the basic principles of the WTO system such as non-discrimination, transparency, or necessity;
explain the material scope of WTO rules and position them within the broader context of public international law;
explain the economic rationale of trade agreements;
explain through reference to WTO case-law, qualify legally a given real-life State measure (eg, a tax; a local content requirement; or a quantitative restriction) as coming within the scope of a particular WTO legal provision;
explain the rules of the WTO dispute settlement system, compare it with other enforcement systems and evaluate the relative effectiveness of the WTO DSU;
explain the basic WTO substantive rules and dispute settlement procedures in a real-life case;
explain the protection afforded by Bilateral investment treaties/Investment chapters of Free Trade Agreements;
identify possible venues for international investment disputes;
explain basic aspects of investment arbitration, including jurisdictional requirements; procedure; and challenge and enforcement of awards;
understand recent trends and current challenges of international investment law.

This course is devoted to the study of the two core branches of international economic law: international trade law and international investment law.

In an era of increasing interdependence in international business, the WTO has built a rules-based system that aims to facilitate business transactions and trade through the application of legal rules, which arguably serve economic efficiency. Such rules are enforced by the strongest third party adjudication system in the history of international law. However, the rise of populism and the anti-establishment movement has not left the WTO unaffected: a growing criticism from civil society and the current indifference (even hostility) on the US side has led the WTO to a nearly existential crisis; more recently, the WTO appeals mechanism became dysfunctional.

Against this backdrop, this course addresses both institutional and substantive aspects of the international trade law architecture and aims at contextualizing recent developments that threaten (or, depending on the viewer¿s position, aim to reform) the multilateral trading system. As the WTO does not function in vacuum, a contextual analysis takes place when appropriate. After introducing students into the underlying economic and political philosophy of free trade and the structure of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the course focuses on the core principles relating to trade in goods, services, and intellectual property and analyses the major legal disciplines under the WTO.

The course draws heavily on WTO case-law based on the dispute settlement understanding, the innovative dispute resolution system, that has emerged since the WTO genesis in 1995. This will allow to comprehend the reach of WTO law but also understand why so much hostility is expressed by developed and developing countries alike. When applicable, the course also draws parallels with regional developments on similar matters, taking the EU as a prime example. In-depth analysis of case-law acquaints students with border measures, such as tariffs and quotas, but also highlights the potentially protectionist effects of behind-the-border measures, ranging from technical, sanitary and phytosanitary measures in goods to licensing and qualification requirements in services trade.

Sovereignty and national security, globalization, business taxation, investment protection, and sustainability are controversial topics that are discussed in class with a view to gaining a better understanding of the real-life areas that trade liberalization may impinge upon. In this regard, particular attention is paid to the new global order that emerges by the emancipation of big developing countries (eg BRICS); the negotiation and conclusion of bilateral deals and ¿megaregionals¿; or new protectionist forces and ensuing trade wars that emerge around the world.

This overview is followed by an analysis of the rules regarding international investment. These rules complement the traditional framework governing international trade by granting private parties direct access to an international dispute settlement mechanism. This course discusses the economic, political and legal framework of international investments. It examines substantive aspects of international investment law and explores the scope (concept of investment; nationality requirements; requirement of compliance with host state law) and standards (prohibition of unlawful expropriation; fair and equitable treatment; etc.) of the protection of foreign investments. Finally, it deals with procedural aspects and focuses on investment arbitration, in particular International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) arbitration.

  • Fall Semester 2022/23 (from to )

    Course start date 2022-09-01
    Course end date 2022-12-23
    Language English
    Credits 6 (ECTS)
    Grading scheme: Grades will be awarded on a 10 point scale where 6 is the passing grade