30 Jul 2015
To fuse or not to fuse? Assessing the case for convergent disciplines on goods and services trade
Think piece by Pierre Sauvé for the E15 Initiative on Strengthening the Global Trade System
In his latest essay for the ICTSD-World Economic Forum E15 initiative on Strengthening the Global Trade and Investment System for Sustainable Development, WTI Director of External Programmes and Academic Partnerships and faculty member Pierre Sauvé explores the case for fusing the law of goods with that of services in a world of global value chains. The paper does so by directing attention to the questions of whether the current architectures of multilateral and preferential trade governance are compatible with a world of trade in tasks; whether the existing rules offer globally active firms a coherent structure for doing business in a predictable environment; whether it is feasible to redesign the structure and content of existing trade rules to align them to the reality of production fragmentation; and what steps can be envisaged to better align policy and realities in the marketplace if the prospects for restructuring appear unfavourable.
The paper argues that fusing trade disciplines for goods and services is neither needed nor feasible and may actually deflect attention from a number of worthwhile policy initiatives where more realistic (if never easily secured) prospects of generic rule-making may well exist.