GPI Seminar: Prof. Thomas Cottier
The lecture will introduce the transformation from trade liberalization to trade regulation and the implication of increasingly focussing on non-tariff barriers and regulatory issues in past, but foremost recent times. Trade policy, today mainly deals with behind the border issues. The shift to PTAs accelerated what begun in the WTO. Trade policy today is mainly about minimising regulatory divergence and to exclude economically protectionist implications while creating policy space for the pursuit of legitimate non-trade concerns. What once was at the heart of European internal market law is not part of global law; the boundaries between international cooperation and integration are veining; the same techniques and modalities are being discussed on the level of domestic law (internal market), regional and global trade regimes.
The focus on non-tariff barriers and regulatory issues induces important procedural issues in the process of decision-making. Much of the resistance to TTIP and even CETA can be located in the absence of adequate procedural safeguards to secure inclusive policy making, allowing all stakeholders to participate. This is a particular challenge for the European Union and countries like the UK. The lecture will expound some ideas as to how this could be approached beyond existing modalities, in particular suggesting recourse to a trade act, comparable to the United States. The talk concludes by suggesting to leave traditional perceptions of trade liberalization, causing anxieties behind, and to talk about trade regulation and harnessing globalization instead. To conclude: we urgently need to address a communicational problem.
Thomas Cottier, former Managing Director of the World Trade Institute and the Institute of European and International Economic Law, is Emeritus Professor of European and International Economic Law at the University of Bern. He is a former co-director of the national research programme on trade law and policy (NCCR Trade Regulation: From Fragmentation to Coherence) located at the WTI.
Prof. Cottier is an associate editor of several journals. He was a visiting professor at the Graduate Institute, Geneva and currently teaches at the Europa Institut Saarbrücken, Germany and at Wuhan University, China. From 1997 to 2004 he was a member of the Swiss National Research Council and served on the board of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) Rome during the same period. He served the Baker & McKenzie law firm as Of Counsel from 1998 to 2005. Prof. Cottier has a long-standing involvement in GATT/WTO activities. He served on the Swiss negotiating team of the Uruguay Round from 1986 to 1993, first as Chief negotiator on dispute settlement and subsidies for Switzerland and subsequently as Chief negotiator on TRIPs. He held several positions in the Swiss External Economic Affairs Department and was the Deputy-Director General of the Swiss Intellectual Property Office. In addition to his conceptual work in the fields of services and intellectual property and legal counselling, he has also served as a member or chair of several GATT and WTO panels. Prof. Cottier has written and publishes on a wide range of trade and international law issues.