Social Regulation in the WTO

Social Regulation in the WTO

Trade Policy and International Legal Development

Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer

This original and authoritative book analyzes how the WTO’s restrictions on the use of trade measures for social goals affects the development of the law of the international community.

Chapter 1: The Social Impacts of Trade

Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer

Subjects: law - academic, international economic law, trade law, private international law


The term ‘trade’ has numerous definitions, often making the exact meaning in any particular context dependent on the author’s discipline. In the social sciences generally, ‘trade’ has been a topic of study for anthropologists, archeologists, historians, and sociologists, as well as for political scientists, and the approaches to just what is being studied change with the particular focal point. While all definitions implicate a transfer of goods or services, ideas differ on whether the transfer must be voluntary (to distinguish ‘trading’ from ‘raiding’), whether the transfer must be two-way (to distinguish trading from gift-giving), and whether the mere act of exchange is sufficient in and of itself to be considered ‘trade’.1 It is the latter point that is of relevance here: throughout history, the commercial act of trading – at least the process of international trade – has always been accompanied by more than a mere exchange of goods or services: ‘trade as encounter’ led to trade as ‘communication’, even when the language of the traders differed.2 1. IMPACTS OF TRADE AS A SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PHENOMENON Indeed, trade, regardless of how it is otherwise defined, has contained within it the force of profound social evolution: trade as phenomenon. 1 Polyani looks at trade from an ‘institutional’ perspective and includes ‘twosidedness’ in his definition of acts embodying ‘trade’: Karl Polanyi, ‘Traders and Trade’ in Jeremy A. Sabloff and C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, eds., Ancient Civilizations and Trade (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1975, 133-154). In Finley’s classic work, The Ancient Economy, one is...

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