International Economic Law

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Have WTO Members Successfully Circumvented the US’ Blockade of the Appellate Body? (and How Would We Know?)

On January 26th, in what has become a repeat performance of global governance kabuki, Guatemala put forth a proposal on behalf of 130 World Trade Organization members to relaunch the selection process for Appellate Body adjudicators. It was the 73rd time it was doing so, and for the 73rd time, the US exercised its right to block the proposal. As the US stated, “the old system was not working for the United States and it was not working for many other Members… In contrast, investing in dispute settlement reform presents an opportunity to build a new system that overcomes the problems of the past.”[1] The mention of reform is timely, since there remains hope that later this month, at the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13) set to take place in Abu Dhabi on February 26th to 29th, WTO members may reach a deal on reforming the Dispute Settlement Understanding in a way that resolves the current impasse. Until that happens, any defendant can appeal a panel ruling “into the void”, where…

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A Bite at the Apple: States’ Struggle to Tax Digital Services

Taxation might not top the agenda of the readership of EJIL:Talk!. And yet, we have all heard the chorus of mass media and policymakers decrying the tiny tax liabilities of large corporations operating in the digital economy. Does international law have nothing to contribute to this discussion? Of course it does. In fact, the…

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The Discomfort of Extraterritoriality: US Semiconductor Export Controls and why their Chokehold on Dutch Photolithography Machines Matter  

In the wake of the US Department of Commerce’s announcement on 17 October 2023 of new sweeping semiconductor export control restrictions, China began stockpiling photolithography machines produced by ASML based in the Netherlands. Why did China scramble towards a Dutch company because of US restrictions? These regulations were designed to restrict the transfer of…

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Dial CPTPP for Climate Change-Related Civil Society Involvement in China: The Experimental Potential of the CPTPP’s Environmental Submissions and Referral Procedure

In September 2021, China formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). Signed and entered into force in 2018, the CPTPP is a recent addition to a line of free trade agreements (FTAs) that establish formal mechanisms for engaging civil society in environmental matters.

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform: Lifelong Learning

How many International Investment Disputes have there been since 1973? How many International Investment Disputes are ongoing now? We do not know. There is no authoritative count. How many treaty-based awards issued by arbitral tribunals since 2000 are not publicly available? Again, nothing authoritative can be said except that a sizeable percentage of such awards are not available.

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