Regional Trade Agreements – St. Louis

The Saint Louis University School of Law Public Law Review is organizing a symposium, The Changing Tide of Trade: Social, Political, and Environmental Implications of Regional Trade Agreements. The symposium will take place Friday, April 4, 2008. The call for papers deadline is Dec. 17, 2007. (Details after the jump.)

THE CHANGING TIDE OF TRADE: The Social, Political, and Environmental Implications of Regional Trade Agreement

Spring Symposium and Volume XXVII Issue: The Changing Tide of Trade: Social, Political, and Environmental Implications of Regional Trade Agreements
In its XXVII issue, Public Law Review calls for an assessment of the social, political, and environmental implications of regional trade agreements. Issue No. 1 of Volume XXVII will feature articles from the symposium.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) was established in 1995 as an international organization with the goal of facilitating trade among nations by breaking down trade barriers pursuant to an agreed set of rules. Members of the WTO agree to adhere to the package of multilateral trade agreements negotiated in the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations, which took place from 1986-1994. There are ongoing negotiations within the WTO on issues that were unresolved after the Uruguay Round, as well as negotiations on implementation of the Doha Development Agenda, which emerged from the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations in 2001. In addition, the Dispute Settlement Body of the WTO serves as a forum for the resolution of trade disputes among Members. From time to time, new Members are accepted into the WTO through the process of accession. There are currently 151 members of the WTO.
As WTO membership has grown, interests have diversified, and negotiations have become more cumbersome, countries have resorted to establishing regional trade agreements (RTAs). RTAs focus on the interests of countries in a particular region or group of regions, and not on global interests. By 2010, the WTO estimates that nearly 400 RTAs will be in effect. RTAs allow for more efficient trade negotiations and permit countries greater freedom to choose their trading partners, trade deals and conditions of trade. However, since RTAs operate outside the multilateral WTO system, many questions as to how the transition from a multilateral to a regional trading system will shape the way we think about social, political, and environmental issues arise. Some of these questions include, but are not limited to, the following: How will trade relations between developed and developing nations change? Will RTAs become a tool for implementing the policy agenda of the powerful? What social, environmental, and political issues will arise under RTAs? Will RTAs hamper attempts to develop global standards on labor rights, women’s rights, environmental protection, and other social issues?
With these questions in mind, we seek papers and presentations that examine the effects of regional trade agreements. The symposium will consist of three panels. Some suggested topics pertaining to each of the three panels are set forth below, but proposals on other topics related to the theme of the symposium will be considered.
• Recent RTAs in Legal, Economic, and Political Context
o One panel will focus on the motivations of national governments in entering into RTAs and on recent case studies.
o We would like speakers on this panel to be prepared to engage in a round table discussion of both the advantages and disadvantages of RTAs from a legal, economic, and political perspective.
o Questions this panel could address include, but are not limited to, the following:
• What do governments gain from pursuing RTA negotiations?
• Will the increase in the number of RTAs undermine the achievements of the WTO and ongoing negotiations within the WTO?
• Have recent RTAs resulted in trade creation or trade diversion within the region?
• Will regional agreements result in limiting access to RTA markets based on political ideology, national religion, or stance on terrorism?

• Implications of RTAs: Issues of Social Justice, Development, and Human Rights
o A second panel will examine the interplay between RTAs and social justice, development and human rights.
o Questions this panel could address include, but are not limited to, the following:
• What are the impacts of RTAs on the distribution of wealth between developed and developing countries and within developing countries?
• Will RTAs foster or hinder the process of sustainable development on a regional level?
• Will RTAs play a role in shaping the rights of women, children, minorities, and the poor?

• Implications of RTAs: Environmental, Labor, and Other Social Issues
o A third panel will address the extent to which RTAs will impact environmental standards, labor standards, and other areas of social concern.
o Questions this panel could address include, but are not limited to the following:
• What impacts will RTAs have on environmental law and the ability of countries to impose higher environmental standards on their trade partners?
• What impacts will RTAs have on labor and employment law and the ability of countries to impose higher standards in those areas on their trade partners?
• Are the criticisms leveled at the NAFTA environmental and labor side agreements equally applicable to new RTAs that the United States has entered into or is attempting to negotiate?

Presentation at the conference is contingent upon completion of a publishable paper; likewise, publication of a paper is contingent upon presentation at the symposium. Submissions for consideration may either take the form of short commentaries or longer law review articles. Decisions for presentation and publication will be based upon a 300 word abstract. Those interested should submit an abstract to the Executive Editor in Word or PDF format no later than December 17, 2007. Submissions will be reviewed in December and you can expect to be notified of our decisions by the end of January, 2008. If applying from abroad, please take into account necessary time for visa processing. We suggest you submit your abstract at an earlier date if you require a visa. Symposium participants will be chosen through both the submission process outlined above and through invitation. The conference is scheduled for Friday, April 4, 2008. The conference will take place during Atlas Week at Saint Louis University, which is a week long series of events focusing on international issues. Full drafts of accepted papers should be submitted by May 1, 2008.
Abstracts should be submitted to:

Falon Wrigley
Executive Editor, Public Law Review
Saint Louis University School of Law
3700 Lindell Boulevard
St Louis MO 63108 USA
Email: fwrigley|at| Phone: 618.920.3326