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|A series on Trade|
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.
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 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.
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)
The World Trade Organisation Trade Related 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.
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. 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).
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