Table of Contents

Global Governance through Trade

Global Governance through Trade

EU Policies and Approaches

Leuven Global Governance series

Edited by Jan Wouters, Axel Marx, Dylan Geraets and Bregt Natens

The 'new generation' of EU trade policies aims to advance public goods - such as promoting sustainable development, protecting human rights and enhancing governance in third states. These developments raise important questions surrounding extraterritoriality, coherence and legitimacy. In Global Governance through Trade leading scholars provide a cohesive overview of relevant papers and case studies to answer these questions and provide an in-depth assessment of the European Union's new trade policies.

Chapter 14: Conclusion: possibilities and limitations of governing through trade

Jan Wouters, Axel Marx, Dylan Geraets and Bregt Natens

Subjects: law - academic, international economic law, trade law, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, international relations, regulation and governance


This volume started by noting the current stalemate in multilateral negotiations and its effect on the creation of traditional international law. Indeed, several observers posit that traditional international law is stagnating. As Joost Pauwelyn, Ramses Wessel and Jan Wouters (2014) argue, formal international law is stagnating in terms of both quantity and quality, and is increasingly superseded by informal international lawmaking in which rules and standards are developed and enforced by non-state actors on a global scale (see also Marx, 2011; Büthe and Mattli, 2011). As argued in the Introduction, besides the emergence and proliferation of different forms of informal lawmaking (Pauwelyn, Wessel and Wouters, 2012; Büthe and Mattli, 2011; Marx and Wouters, 2015), another form of international policy making is rapidly expanding: governance through trade (Meunier and Nicolaïdis, 2006; Hafner-Burton, 2013; Damro, Chapter 2, this volume). This concept entails that countries are exercising power through their trade policies in order to promote non-trade objectives. This especially includes, as elaborated in this volume, the provision of global public goods (Croquet (Chapter 6), Bartels (Chapter 4), Leal-Arcas and Wilmarth (Chapter 5), Geraets and Natens (Chapter 11), Ryngaert and Koekkoek (Chapter 10)) and the promotion of good governance (Bartels (Chapter 4), Yap (Chapter 9), Beke and Hachez (Chapter 8), Marx and Soares (Chapter 7)). The European Union (EU or Union) is a particularly interesting case of governance through trade. In comparison to other major trading blocks, it is very active in the pursuit of this form of policy making. Although not a state, the EU possesses exclusive competence for its common commercial policy.

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