Fairness in the World Economy

Fairness in the World Economy

US Perspectives on International Trade Relations

Americo Beviglia Zampetti

In an international context, fairness is particularly important, since only a system which is perceived by its participants as fair can command acceptance and compliance. The main focus of this study is to investigate the development of the notion of fairness in US trade policy and law as well as the impact this notion has on international trade discussions and rule-making, and especially on the formation of the multilateral trade regime.

Introduction

Americo Beviglia Zampetti

Subjects: economics and finance, international economics, politics and public policy, international relations

Extract

‘Fairness’ is a multifaceted notion, comprising several different dimensions. It is used in various areas of law and policy, including intellectual property, consumer protection, antitrust, taxation, public utility, contracts, and international trade.1 With the progressive maturing of the international system, this notion has acquired relevance at this level as well.2 In the international context, fairness is particularly important, since only a system that its participants perceive as fair can command acceptance and compliance. The main focus of this study is on investigating the development of the notion of fairness in United States (US) trade policy and law and the impact of this notion on international trade discussions and rule-making, and especially on the formation of the multilateral trade regime. The contention is that fairness concerns that have been present in US trade policy debates and treaty practice from the Republic’s inception have contributed to shaping these debates and practice over the years, both at home and abroad, and were finally thrust upon the international scene through inclusion in the multilateral trade regime after World War II. The study focuses on US domestic trade law and policy debate because of the importance that the notion of fairness has been accorded in the USA and because of the USA’s role in shaping the multilateral trade regime. In US trade policy discourse, ‘fairness’ or ‘fair trade’ has often come to be viewed as either an excuse, by its detractors, or a justifiable reason, by its supporters, for demanding protectionist measures and initiatives.3 The...