Abstract

China’s accession to the WTO is widely understood as an important step towards greater global market liberalization and integration. However, this step has been also perceived in an ambivalent way. On one hand, the global market liberalization would have never been really completed without participation of such a major player as China. On the other hand, many observers articulated concerns about China’s ability to integrate into the WTO system. In order to tackle the issues of concern, attention was paid mainly to technical issues, which were seen as a precondition for China’s successful integration into the WTO system. For this reason, topics related with market integration, such as e.g. liberalization requirements, as well as topics related with transparency and legal and administrative policies, necessary for securing of just and equitable resolution of commercial and trade disputes, were initially addressed. Still, in the light of the changing and evolving geopolitical climate, it has become more evident that Non-Trade Concerns (NTCs) might be another multifaceted topic requiring special attention. EU and US, becoming increasingly aware of the fact that competition of economies with different level of development might result not only in job losses in developed countries due to relocation of production, but also to general deterioration of environmental, social and health standards, have accentuated the importance of a global consensus on NTCs and their inclusion into EU and US external policies concerning foreign trade and investment. Civil society from the developed world, in general, is afraid that further liberalization may endanger public policies at different levels: environmental protection and sustainable development, good governance, cultural rights, labor rights, public health, social welfare, national security, food security, access to knowledge, consumer protection, and animal welfare. On the other hand, coalition consisting of China and other BRICS countries as well as other developing countries gaining more influence in the WTO and other international fora has been able to articulate discontent with measures adopted by developed countries to address NTCs. The clash between interests of developed and developing countries reveals potential unfairness and inconsistencies of the international system, including the international trade system, which needs to undergo a deep reform to integrate the developing countries’ needs. Many of the measures that developed countries introduce to address NTCs were received by developing countries with suspicion, resistance, and even hostility. Developing countries, including China, doubt the authenticity of such considerations and think they might actually hide protectionist purposes. Additionally, developing countries see these measures as an indirect form of western imperialism whereby they will have no choice but to comply with the social, ethical, and cultural values of the developed states. Nonetheless, not only has China undergone serious reforms and adopted new regulations to address the issue of NTCs, but the country has even begun to play an important role in the international negotiations on NTCs—such as those on climate change, energy, culture, and so on. However, at the same time it provides an opportunity for China and other developing countries to defend their interests in a constructive dialogue with developed countries and restructure the system in order to find a necessary balance between globalization and sustainable development or to shape it according to their interests.
Full Paper
Paolo Davide Farah
Founder, President and Director

Summary

China’s accession to the WTO is widely understood as an important step towards greater global market liberalization and integration. However, this step has been also perceived in an ambivalent way. On one hand, the global market liberalization would have never been really completed without participation of such a major player as China. On the other hand, many observers articulated concerns about China’s ability to integrate into the WTO system. In order to tackle the issues of concern, attention was paid mainly to technical issues, which were seen as a precondition for China’s successful integration into the WTO system. For this reason, topics related with market integration, such as e.g. liberalization requirements, as well as topics related with transparency and legal and administrative policies, necessary for securing of just and equitable resolution of commercial and trade disputes, were initially addressed. Still, in the light of the changing and evolving geopolitical climate, it has become more evident that Non-Trade Concerns (NTCs) might be another multifaceted topic requiring special attention. EU and US, becoming increasingly aware of the fact that competition of economies with different level of development might result not only in job losses in developed countries due to relocation of production, but also to general deterioration of environmental, social and health standards, have accentuated the importance of a global consensus on NTCs and their inclusion into EU and US external policies concerning foreign trade and investment. Civil society from the developed world, in general, is afraid that further liberalization may endanger public policies at different levels: environmental protection and sustainable development, good governance, cultural rights, labor rights, public health, social welfare, national security, food security, access to knowledge, consumer protection, and animal welfare. On the other hand, coalition consisting of China and other BRICS countries as well as other developing countries gaining more influence in the WTO and other international fora has been able to articulate discontent with measures adopted by developed countries to address NTCs. The clash between interests of developed and developing countries reveals potential unfairness and inconsistencies of the international system, including the international trade system, which needs to undergo a deep reform to integrate the developing countries’ needs. Many of the measures that developed countries introduce to address NTCs were received by developing countries with suspicion, resistance, and even hostility. Developing countries, including China, doubt the authenticity of such considerations and think they might actually hide protectionist purposes. Additionally, developing countries see these measures as an indirect form of western imperialism whereby they will have no choice but to comply with the social, ethical, and cultural values of the developed states. Nonetheless, not only has China undergone serious reforms and adopted new regulations to address the issue of NTCs, but the country has even begun to play an important role in the international negotiations on NTCs—such as those on climate change, energy, culture, and so on. However, at the same time it provides an opportunity for China and other developing countries to defend their interests in a constructive dialogue with developed countries and restructure the system in order to find a necessary balance between globalization and sustainable development or to shape it according to their interests.

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The need to prevent the abuse of intellectual property rights by right holders or the resort to practices which unreasonably restrain trade or adversely affect the international transfer of technology are topical issues that affects international relations. It is crucial for developing countries to achieve a substantive degree of IPR protection, not only for the promotion of creativity and innovation, but also for the maximization of technology transfer from developed countries. gLAWcal examines IPR regimes and their impact on competition with the objective of providing a better understanding of the competition-dimension of IP rights. Intellectual property rights are also extremely crucial to sustainable development in manifold ways, from the protection of traditional knowledge and cultural products, to access to essential medicines. Our organization focuses on the policy frameworks and institutions shaping debate and policy development in this sector.
In the last fifteen years, all around the world there has been a tendency to put much hope in the rise of civil society, its emergence being welcomed as a sign of progress towards a more democratic system. Many places in the world are today laboratories for change thanks to bottom-up movements supported by civil society organizations. By looking at contentious politics and how they converge and interact with institutional politics, we can better understand what directions a country’s political system and its governance is taking. gLAWcal supports collective forms of actions aimed at the creation of better societies, on many social issues, and in various geographical areas.
Improvements in people’s economic wellbeing have increased citizen demands for a cleaner environment. As societies undergo the transition to industrial development and modernity, their citizens begin to concern themselves with needs and wants beyond the material, including the protection of the environment. However, growing levels of environmental consciousness and awareness are often not matched by proper environmental legislation enforcement at the local level. gLAWcal looks at environmental rights developments in developing countries, and aims at delivering policy advices and capacity building support in areas where law implementation is lacking. With this purpose, our organization seeks to improve environmental protection not only for the benefit of the populations directly affected, but also for the sake of the entire planet.
Globalization, and the consequent international exchange of goods, services, cultures, ideas, has brought increased wealth for many on the one hand, while exerting pressure on core societal values both in developed and developing countries on the other hand. Public opinion and policy makers have warned against the threat posed by international trade and liberalization to policies and measures meant to protect the so-called non-trade concerns (NTC), such as environmental protection, sustainable development, good governance, cultural rights, labour rights, public health, social welfare, national security, food safety, access to knowledge, consumer interests and animal welfare.When trying to protect these issues, developed countries have put into place trade measures that have encountered resistance or dissent in developing countries, being perceived as protectionist actions or as an attempt by the importing countries to impose their social, ethical and cultural values on exporting countries.The challenge of integrating Non-Trade Concerns embodies the willingness to overcome national egoisms and embrace universally a number of fundamental values, creating an ethical and juridical platform to win over cultural differences and issues of national sovereignty. gLAWcal’s research aims at identifying ways to protect NTC within international economic law. By shedding new light on developing countries’ trends towards inclusion of NTC in the domestic and international arena, gLAWcal provides a comprehensive perspective on law enforcement, creating a bridge between the international and the domestic realities.

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