5 Oct 2021

Peter Van den Bossche gives Keynote Address at the Launch of the Book "Rethinking, Repackaging, and Rescuing World Trade Law in the Post-Pandemic Era"

On 1 October 2021, at the 2021 WTO Public Forum in Geneva, Peter Van den Bossche gave the keynote address at the launch of the book "Rethinking, Repackaging, and Rescuing World Trade Law in the Post-Pandemic Era".

This book, edited by Amrita Bahri, Weihuan Zhou and Daria Boklan, was published in September 2021 by Hart Publishing. The 16 contributors to this book look at the multiple crises currently confronting the world trading system and inquire what lessons can be learned from these crises for the future.

The first part of the book, entitled Rethinking World Trade Law and the Pandemic deals with the trade-related measures taken by WTO Members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and what these responses (be it in the form of export restrictions, subsidies or otherwise) tell us about the adequacy of the current WTO rulebook and the WTO’s ability to resolve related disputes.

The contributions in second part of the book, which is entitled "Repackaging World Trade Law and Sustainable Development", discuss the future of world trade law in light of the need to ensure that economic development is both environmentally and socially sustainable. The four contributions in this part of the book each show, from a different perspective, how trade and trade rules can play a role in achieving the sustainability of economic development.

The third and final part of the book, entitled "Rescuing World Trade Law and Other Fundamental Challenges", focusses on the WTO dispute settlement crisis and the geopolitical superpower confrontation between the United States and China.

In his address, Peter Van den Bossche inter alia noted that it should not come as a surprise that an unprecedented crisis as the COVID-19 pandemic reveals new weaknesses in WTO law and puts the spotlight on its well-known deficiencies. He also commented that while it should be possible to overcome – in one way or another – the WTO dispute settlement crisis in the next few years, the geopolitical confrontation between the United States and China is likely to be with us for decades to come. Trade and trade rules, however, can and should contribute to the common effort to ‘manage’ this confrontation and prevent it from getting out of hand. Peter Van den Bossche congratulated the editors of and the contributors to this book.

This book does an excellent job in addressing the most important challenges facing the multilateral trading system. and gives us much food for thought and further discussion on how to rethink, repackage and rescue world trade law.