The Way Forward
Edited by Michael Faure and André van der Walt
Chapter 4: Globalization and Harmonization of International Trade Law
4. Globalization and harmonization of international trade law Sieg Eiselen 1 INTRODUCTION The phenomenon of globalization is speeding up in the current century. Although there is as yet no clear and generally accepted definition of what exactly globalization means and includes, there are a number of core characteristics which can be used to describe the phenomenon in international trade.1 Globalization is characterized by the increasing way in which international borders are becoming irrelevant, especially in respect of international trade, due to the modern forms of transport, modern forms of communication (specifically the internet) and the use of English as the common trade language. It is a process driven mostly by economic and technological forces, irrespective of any legal barriers that may exist.2 The way in which international markets have become integrated and mutually dependent in the last century and a half was dramatically demonstrated first by the worldwide recession, caused by the protectionist trade measures of the United States and the ensuing tariff war, during the early part of the twentieth century,3 and more recently by the Asian financial crisis in 1997, which caused not only severe economic turbulence in South-East Asia but a worldwide economic slowdown,4 and the worldwide tremors sent through international markets originating in the ongoing American sub-prime crisis and recession of 2008. The tardiness of the law to respond to the challenges posed by globalization, by the needs of international trade and by the impact of information technology and the internet is mentioned quite...
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