International Economic Law

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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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Tilting the Playing Field

“Levelling the playing field” has been one of the buzzwords of the European Union (EU)’s external economic policy over the last few years. In essence, through various instruments including free trade agreements, the EU has been trying to ensure that foreign entities, goods and services are subject to similar regulatory burdens as their EU counterparts when engaging in…

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Of Mazes and Layers: Can a UN Convention on Tax Change the Rules of the Game?

The Maze Last month, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly’s Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee) tabled a draft resolution calling for the elaboration of a UN convention on international tax cooperation. Lauded by civil society as “a chance of legitimate, inclusive rule-setting” the initiative is yet to be remarked on, or acknowledged by,…

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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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A Little Threat from My Friends: An EU-based Company Contemplates Taking War-Torn Ukraine to Investment Arbitration

On 18 August 2022, the Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine (ESBU) seized the assets of one of Ukraine’s largest fuel retailers, AMIC Ukraine, the local subsidiary of AMIC Energy, an Austrian private equity firm. The Ukrainian authorities acted on charges of tax fraud, money laundering, and – above all – the company’s alleged connection…

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