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The Distinguished International Academic Seminar on "The Changing International Economic Order and Response from An International Law Perspective" was Held at the University of International Business and Economics

PublishDate:2019-11-20

During September 26 to 27, 2019, the distinguished international academic seminar on "The Changing International Economic Order and Response from an International Law Perspective" was held at the University of International Business and Economics (“UIBE”). This seminar was jointly sponsored by UIBE and China Law Society World Trade Organization Law Research Association. UIBE Law School, the Chinese Law Society-UIBE "One Belt and One Road" Rule of Law Research Base, and the editorial department of the UIBE Economic and Trade Law Review jointly hosted the seminar. Top international law scholars from the United States, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, France, Italy and Taiwan attended. The seminar invited more than 300 top researchers and scholars from departments and universities including: the Ministry of Commerce, China Law Society, Tsinghua University, Renmin University, Wuhan University, Fudan University, China University of Political Science and Law, Xiamen University, Institute of International Law of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Beijing Normal University, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Shanghai University of International Business and Economics and UIBE.

 

Group photo

 

Conference site

This seminar focused on the rapid changes in the world economic order in recent years. The World Trade Organization (“WTO”), as the core multilateral trading system, faces serious challenges, especially in the case of changing geopolitics with the rise of unilateralism and trade protectionism. Those challenges include the Appellate Body’s lockout crisis, Sino-US trade frictions, etc. The seminar’s aims were to explore the underlying causes of these crises, explore the role of international law in ensuring international rule of law, promote peace and justice, maintain world stability, and discuss how international economic law can respond to the rapidly changing international economic order as well as other issues.

 

Professor SHI Jingxia

Principal XIA Wenbin of the University of International Business and Economics, Vice President WANG Qijiang of the Chinese Law Society, Deputy Director LI Yongjie of the Ministry of Commerce, and President HUANG Jin of the China Society of International Law delivered speeches at the opening ceremony. Principal Xia warmly welcomed the seminar guests . He pointed out that international law should play an important role in analyzing the challenges facing the current international economic order, and international law should help the global society to build new international relations and a community of human destiny. President Xia affirmed the recent years’ achievements of UIBE Law School in disciplinary construction and personnel training. He hoped that this seminar would produce fruitful outcomes and help UIBE Law School to achieve greater development in the new era.

 

Principal XIA Wenbin

In his speech, Mr. WANG Qijiang, vice president of the Chinese Law Society, believes that trade is an inevitable requirement for world economic development and is a win-win cooperation between countries. Economic globalization is an irreversible trend and it is within the common interest of all countries. He stressed three points: first, it is necessary to continue to maintain the multilateral trading system and opposition to unilateralism and protectionism, and it is necessary to promote  of the WTO; second, parties should collaborate to build a proper WTO rules system that conforms to the characteristics of the times and the common interests of mankind, and consensually transform the claims of the global governance system; third, it is necessary to further strengthen the academic communication of international law, increase parties’ interactions and mutual trust, and establish an effective communication and coordination mechanism that effectively bridges differences.

 

Mr. WANG Qijiang)

Deputy Director LI Yongjie pointed out that the current crisis facing the WTO dispute settlement mechanism includes the rise of unilateralism and the US’ obstruction of the selection of the WTO Appellate Body judges. Ms. Li also recalled the positive role WTO’s dispute settlement mechanism has played in resolving trade disputes. She believes that the system is both fragile and strong in the context of the current global economic order. Based on a cautious optimism about the future of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, she emphasized that members must continue to adhere to a rule-based system and actively respond to current challenges.

 

Ms. LI Yongjie

Mr. HUANG Jin, president of the China Society of International Law, shared his understanding of the practice of international law in the 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, including: first, at the value level, China has proposed the concept of peaceful coexistence (i.e., “one country, two systems”), and promoted the idea of constructing a community of human destiny; second, at the principle level, China has raised the five principles of peaceful coexistence; third, at the legislative level, China has actively participated in international legislation, and China has always adhered to the principle of “pacta sunt servanda”; fourth, at the practical level, China actively fulfills its international responsibilities and obligations through extensive participation in intergovernmental organizations; fifth, China has manifested exemplary effects in the peaceful settlement of international disputes; and sixth, China focuses on coordination to promote the rule of law domestically and internationally.

 

Mr. HUANG Jin

After the opening remarks, the seminar proceeded with the discussion session. The topic of the first session was “Global Economic Order in Challenge”, and was chaired by Professor YU Jinsong from Renmin University Law School. In this session, Professor Peter Van den Bossche, director of the Research Department of the Swiss World Trade Institute and member of the former WTO Appellate Body, delivered a speech on the topic of “The Use and Abuse of the National Security Exception in International Trade Law”. Professor Bossche believes that although the WTO dispute settlement mechanism plays a very limited role in disputes invoking “Security Exceptions” under GATT Article 21, this mechanism is still indispensable. In order to avoid the abusive use of national security exceptions, the panel must examine four conditions, including whether there exists an urgent situation in international relations, whether the disputed measures are taken during a period of emergency, whether the respondent has fully acted in good faith in examining its “basic security interests”, and whether the disputed measures are credible means to protect the state’s basic security interests.

 

Professor YU Jinsong

 

Professor Peter Van den Bossche

Ms. Rachel Brewster, Jeffrey and Bettysue Hughes Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law, shared her view on the topic of “The Struggle for International Economic Law”. From the perspective of international relations theory, Professor Brewster discussed the successful operation of the WTO multilateral trading system in the past decades and the current challenges it faces. After explaining the role of the WTO in international economic law, Professor Brewster analyzed the possible future paths that can be taken by the United States, the European Union, Canada, Japan and China in the development of the global trading system.

 

Professor Rachel Brewster

Professor ZHANG Yuejiao of Tsinghua University Law School further elaborated on the issue of national security exceptions in her comments. Professor Zhang argued that parties should strike a balance between the needs to comply with domestic trade regulations and to avoid the abusive invocation of security exceptions. Regarding the current crisis facing the WTO, Professor Zhang specifically mentioned alternatives that could be explored, and suggested that consideration should be given to cooperation between different dispute resolution mechanisms such as the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the WTO mechanism.

 

Professor ZHANG Yuejiao

After commenting on the speeches of Professor Bossche and Professor Brewster, Professor ZHANG Naigen of Fudan University School of Law discussed the problems in the existing alternatives after the Appellate Body’s lockout, including the attempt to solve the Appellate Body's crisis through arbitration. Professor Zhang also proposed that the crisis may be resolved by taking advantage of the panel’s consistency in its jurisprudence.

 

Professor ZHANG Naigen

In his comments, Professor ZUO Haicong of UIBE Law School agreed with Professor Bossche's opinion on the conditions to invoke the security exceptions, and he believed that building a human community with a shared future is an important way to promote the sound development of the international economic order. Through reciprocal and win-win cooperation, as well as an overall view of common interests, world economic relations will help states to achieve common prosperity and development. And the “One Belt One Road” initiative is a positive method to deal with the current crisis.

 

Professor ZUO Haicong

The theme of the second session was “World Trade Organization System and Global Economic Order”. This session was chaired by Professor SHAN Wenhua, Dean of School of Law of Xi'an Jiaotong University. Dr. Petersmann, emeritus professor of the European University Institute and distinguished scholar in the field of international economic law, spoke on the topic, "How WTO Members Respond to the WTO’s Crisis on Its Governance and the Appellate Body’s Crises". Professor Petersmann pointed out that the main cause of the current WTO crisis lies in the world's four competing trade paradigms, namely: neoliberalism in the United States, mercantilism of President Trump, the unique Chinese system and the European’s liberal order. After discussing ten possible options for resolving the Appellate Body crisis, Professor Petersmann emphasized that the Appellate Body crisis is long-term, and the underlying cause is geopolitical conflicts. He affirmed the cooperation between China and the EU and emphasized the need of a more transparent Chinese rule of law.

 

Professor SHAN Wenhua

 

Professor Petersmann

Mr. Frederick M. Abbott, professor of Distinguished Scholarship in Edward Ball International Law, Florida State University School of Law, spoke on the topic, “TRIPs, Strategic Competition and Global Welfare: Intellectual Property at the Intersections of Legal and Power”. Professor Abbott expressed concern with the limitations of society’s rule of law and legal rules, particularly the limitations of the law under the WTO system. After discussing TTRP’s historical background of regulating technology transfer and China’s historical development of intellectual property rights, Professor Abbott believes that intellectual property rights and technology transfer issues cannot rely solely on multilateral solutions, but also relies on bilateral, regional and plurilateral mechanisms.

 

Professor Frederick M. Abbott

In his commentary, Professor Matthew Kennedy of UIBE Law School reviewed the benefits brought by WTO to China and the belief that following WTO rules has an important role in promoting China's economic prosperity. Professor Kennedy also remarked on the difficulties for TRIPs to formulate specific measures for technology transfer through  black-and-white listing, because case-by- case analysis is required.

 

Professor Matthew Kennedy

Professor KONG Qingjiang commented on Professor Abbott's speech on technology transfer issues and believes that all countries should be open to new rules, while consensus should be established based on a balanced approach and a thorough consideration of the existing rules. Regarding WTO reform, Professor Kong believes that considerations should be given to forming a neutral reform agenda, making full use of existing WTO rules, focusing on resolving the crisis of the Appellate Body, and trying to achieve the results that the Doha Round failed to achieve and formulating new rules.

 

Professor KONG Qingjiang

In her commentary, Professor SHI Jingxia analyzed the development and operation of international economic order post World War II, thereby analyzing the deep-seated causes of the current crisis and China's basic attitude toward WTO reform. Professor Shi believes that the adjustment of legal rules must be linked to its goals and functions, and the common development of sustainable goals can be achieved via feasible rules.

The theme of the third session was “Unilateralism, Regionalism and Multilateralism in Global Trade Governance”. This session was chaired by Professor BIAN Yongmin of UIBE Law School. Professor CHENG Chia-Jui from the Law School of Soochow University shared on the topic, “The Evolution of the International Economic Order and the Conflicting Legal System between Unilateralism and Multilateralism”. After reviewing the history of the development of the international economic order, Professor Cheng pointed out that countries must abide by the established principles as the basic guarantee for the smooth operation of the modern international order, and he proposed several solutions to the current issues in international economic order, including the rational usage of retaliation, the use of UN mechanisms and its platforms, the reform of the WTO dispute settlement mechanism and the consideration of the state responsibility mechanism.

 

Professor BIAN Yongmin

 

Professor CHENG Chia-Jui

Ms. Mariko Kawano, professor of International Law at Waseda University of Japan, shared on the topic of “Regionalism in International Economic Relations” and focused on the dispute settlement mechanism in free trade agreements signed by Japan. After introducing Japan's basic economic policies, Professor Kawano focused on the similarities and differences between the dispute settlement clauses of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) and the Free Trade Agreements (FTA) signed by Japan before and after 2002, and discussed the provisions in the agreements which involve third parties resolving disputes and issues such as the Joint Commission.

 

Professor Mariko Kawano

Mr. LIU Jingdong, researcher from the Institute of International Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Science, analyzed in his comments the reasons why the United States is trying to abandon the existing WTO law and implement unilateralism. He further commented on states’ response to US’ unilateralism and on the appropriateness of individual members’ criticism of the Appellate Body. Professor LIAO Shiping, from the Law School of Beijing Normal University, expounded upon the understanding of unilateralism from the international law perspective, such as the different functional divisions of unilateralism. In her assessment, Associate Professor GONG Hongliu of UIBE Law School distinguished between unilateralism and unilateral actions and offered China's considerations on unilateral actions. Associate Professor Gong emphasized that the goal of WTO’s operational platform is to enable members to develop better together and to meet their initial goals.

Researcher LIU Jingdong, Professor LIAO Shiping. Associate Professor GONG Hongliu

The theme of the fourth session was “Trade Measures and International Economic Law”, and was chaired by Professor YANG Guohua of Tsinghua University Law School. Mr. Alain Pellet, professor of Public International Law at the University of Paris Quest Nanterre La Défense and president of the French Society of International Law, spoke on the topic, “How to Rebuild the New Global Economic Legal Order”. Professor Pellet started from the theories of Karl Marx and Engels on the economic base determining the superstructure to analyzing the concept and position of the global economic legal order. Taking the background of the current world situation, the Sino-US trade war, and the WTO crisis, Professor Pellet interpreted the various political and economic issues that have emerged from the perspective of historical development. He believes that China will play an important role in the reconstruction of the world economic order.

 

Professor YANG Guohua

 

Professor Alain Pellet

Professor Bernard Hoekman of the European University Institute spoke on the topic, “Subsidies Conflicts, Multilateral Cooperation and WTO Reform”. Professor Hoekman pointed out that the issue of state-owned enterprises and subsidies is an important WTO issue, and it is also an important practical issue facing China, which should be recognized differently in different countries. Professor Hoekman explained the issue of government subsidies from the economic perspective. He emphasized that subsidies are universal under the WTO system, and argued that judgements should not be made through a black-and-white decision from a purely legal perspective. Professor Hoekman made recommendations on future reforms, including the need to recognize that virtually all government subsidies are for the pursuit of reasonable goals, purely diplomatic methods do not address spillovers, and that there is a need to focus on the existence of serious systemic negative spillovers.

 

Professor Bernard Hoekman

Professor HAN Liyu from the Law School of Renmin University of China reflected in his comments that Professor Pellet provided an analysis from the macro, historical and legal perspectives on political and legal relations and their interrelationships, and that Mr. Pellet’s opinion is an important reference for solving the trade friction between China and the United States. Professor Hoekman's comparative analysis of subsidies and state-owned enterprises from the perspective of  horizontal and economics is very worthy of consideration by WTO members on how to design better rules in the future. In his comments, Mr. Liao emphasized that the current changes in the global economic and legal order have profound backgrounds, preconditions and restrictions. China needs to work with other countries to consider how to improve the current status quo. WANG Heng, associate professor and co-director of the Centre for International Business Economic Law (CIBEL), University of New South Wales, Australia, commented on the issue of “China's International Economic Law Evolution” and talked about the root causes of the current international economic governance crisis, the progress of Sino-US trade frictions and the trends and influences of the next decade, and he pointed out that soft law can play a certain role, and sometimes  can be even more effective than hard law.

The fifth session was entitled “The Changing International Economic Dispute Resolution Paradigm”, and was chaired by Professor ZHANG Qinglin, dean of the School of Law of Shanghai University of International Business and Economics. Professor Yuka Fukunaga of Waseda University in Japan spoke on the topic, “The Future of WTO Dispute Settlement and Investor-State Arbitration: Possibility of Cross-Fertilization”. Professor Fukunaga pointed out that there are many similarities and references between the WTO dispute settlement and ISDS dispute resolution. Professor Fukunaga specifically explained the normative value of precedents and how to reform the ISDS mechanism based on lessons learned from the WTO dispute settlement mechanism. She suggested to establish a permanent investment dispute resolution mechanism to promote the formation of internal precedents, and countries should agree on the meaning of terms in investment rules, and that trade disputes can be resolved under the FTA mechanism.

 

Professor ZHANG Qinglin

 

Professor Yuka Fukunaga

Professor CHI Manjiao of UIBE Law School shared on the topic, “Investor-State Dispute Resolution and the Future of Global Investment Governance”. Professor Chi pointed out that the legality crisis of the ISDS mechanism is mainly reflected in the certainty and predictability of law, the independency of arbitrators, impartiality, and lack of efficiency. He also analyzed how to maintain more public interest in the reform of the ISDS mechanism, how to balance state’s regulatory power and investor protection and how to promote sustainable development and the behavioral norms of investors.

 

Professor CHI Manjiao

Professor CHEN Huiping from the Law School of Xiamen University agreed with Professor Yuka’s comments about the WTO dispute settlement mechanism and the mutual reference of ISDS. Professor Chen further mentioned the discussion of ISDS reform on the UNCITRAL platform, which indicates the internationalization of ISDS reform and trend is towards the permanent establishment of institutions. Further, the process of UNCITRAL reform is the process of formulating legal rules, and China should pay attention to it. Professor QI Tong of Wuhan University School of Law recognized the idea of establishing a permanent investment dispute settlement mechanism, arguing that it can promote the internal formation of precedents, and improve the consistency of the ruling and the predictability of investment law. At the same time, he pointed out that compared to WTO rules, the current 3,000 international investment treaties are highly fragmented. Professor Qi asserted that the solution lies in building a global unified physical investment norm, but there is still a long way to go to achieve this goal.

Professor CHEN Huiping

In conclusion, Professor Cheng and Dean Shi respectively delivered their closing speeches. Dean Shi emphasized that in the context of the rapidly changing international economic order, scholars should assume their responsibility for history and the times, and deeply ponder the question of how to apply international law to safeguard human dignity and to sustainably address the current crisis and challenges. Professor Shi and Professor Cheng expressed their gratitude to all the representatives and commentators, the foreign affairs and administrative team of the UIBE Law School, the teachers, the student volunteers, as well as the simultaneous interpreter and all participants who have made great efforts for this seminar. With that, the seminar had successfully completed its various objectives and ended in an apt and enthusiastic applause.

 

Professor CHENG Chia-Jui, Professor SHI Jingxia