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US – Origin Marking Requirement: Did the WTO Panel Get the Balance Right between Trade Security and National Security?

On 21 December 2022, the WTO Dispute Settlement Panel ruled against the United States (US) on the product labeling requirement for all goods from Hong Kong to be marked “China” as their country of origin. This requirement came from the executive order that then US President Donald Trump signed on 14 July 2020 by suspending the application Section 201(a) of the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 (which affirmed the continued application of US laws with respect to Hong Kong) to the customs statute (19 USC §1304), among other things. The product labeling requirement was adopted in response to China’s decision to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy by enacting the National Security Law. In light of this development, the US Government formed the view that Hong Kong was no longer sufficiently autonomous to justify different treatment from the People’s Republic of China. The Panel found that the US origin marking requirement was discriminatory against Hong Kong in breach of…

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The EU’s Inconsistent Approach towards Sustainability Treaties: Due diligence legislation v. trade policy

In February 2022 the European Commission launched a proposal for an EU corporate sustainability due diligence directive (‘CSDDD proposal’). Companies will be mandated, under threat of sanctions, to monitor adverse impacts that may arise throughout their value chain from violations of a series of sustainability treaties: that is, treaties on human rights, labor and the environment. These…

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EU – New Zealand FTA: Towards a new approach in the enforcement of trade and sustainable development obligations

 On 30 June 2022, the President of the EU Commission and the New Zealand Prime Minister jointly announced the successful termination of the negotiations for the creation of a new free trade area (FTA) between the European Union and New Zealand. As for New Zealand, the commercial liberalization provided by the new FTA would determine a…

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Overcoming the Global Vaccine and Therapeutics Lag and ‘Vaccine Apartheid’: Abuse of Rights in the EU’s Continued Blocking of the TRIPS Waiver for COVID Vaccines and Related Medicines

Entering the third year of this global pandemic, the United States posted a grim global record of 1 million COVID cases on 3 January 2022.  This record, of course, exists in a shadow of relative non-transparency about COVID incidences, fatalities, and hospitalizations in many parts of the world, arising either from authoritarian regimes refusing to provide…

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Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution and Access: Enforcing International Legal Obligations under Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the Right to Development

Editor's Note: This post was prepared in advance of my remarks for the 12 February 2021 Global Webinar of the Notre Dame Eck Institute of Global Health ("Are we all in this together? Assessing and addressing equitable access and distributive justice in global supply chains during major disease outbreaks").  By this time, US pharmaceutical companies…

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