International trade law is a very complex and continuously expanding area with basically four levels of international trade relationships:
The focus of this guide is on international trade generally and on some of the major bilateral or multilateral agreements: NAFTA, GATT/WTO, FTA, and CAFTA. Plurilateral agreements are left out as they by nature only cover a particular interest in the subject of the treaty among st a limited number of states.
One of the major drawbacks when researching international trade law is, that their is not a codified publications system or central database developed for international law researchers. But thanks to the internet, most organizations devoted to liberalizing international trade make a great number of legislation and accompanying documents available on the web. Internet resources have thus become an important source, if not the only one, to retrieve updated information on international trade law
Consequently this guide provides links to major international and regional trade organizations with brief annotations. Some primary legal documents on trade law are linked with full text. The guide is broken-up into the following six (6) sections:
The United States and International Trade
Regional Trade Organizations
North America | Europe | Asia/Pacific | Africa | South America
News Sources on International Trade
Links U.S. and International Trade
Texas and International Trade Texas Economic Department
U.S. Governmental International Trade U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)The USTR was created by Congress in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. It was authorized to set and administer overall trade policy. As a chief trade negotiator, USTR represents the United States in the major international trade organizations.U.S. International Trade Administration (ITA)As a lead unit for trade in the Department of Commerce, the ITA promotes U.S. exports of manufactured goods, nonagricultural commodities and services. ITA provides U.S. business with information on market access to the international market and protects U.S. business from dumped and subsidized imports.U.S. Import Administration (IA)IA enforces laws and agreements to prevent unfairly traded imports and to protect jobs and the competitive strength of American industry. Here is the overview of the IA. The latest investigations of alleged foreign trade are available in pdf files from "Highlights and News" in right hand column.Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated
U.S. Market Access and ComplianceIncludes active, binding agreements between the United States and its trading partners covering manufactured products and services (excluding agriculture agreements). An excellent source for searching treaties and agreements!U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC)The ITC was established by Congress in 1916 as the U.S. Tariff Commission. The Trade Act of 1974 renamed it as the U.S. International Trade Commission. It has broad investigative powers on trade issues and serves as a national resource where trade data is gathered and analyzed. The ITC provides both the President and Congress with trade information on which U.S. trade policy is based.U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT)CIT was established in 1980 as the successor to the Court of Customs. It provides judicial review of any final determinations by the ITA and ITC. (Folsom, International Trade and Investment in a nutshell 2ed. West Group 2000 p.147.)U.S. Export/Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) was created in 1934 to aid in financing and to facilitate U.S. exports. U.S. Treaties in Force from U.S. Department of State site, provides a list of treaties and other international agreements of the United States in Force as of January 1, 2000. Agreements on trade issues are available.
Legislative histories of the acts on international trade passed by the Congress are important sources for research. The following two sites provide comprehensive materials on legislative history:Back to Top
Congressional Information Service (CIS)
Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet
International Trade Organizations World Trade Organization (WTO)The WTO's official site is a comprehensive source for doing international trade law research. However, since this site contains a huge amount of documents and the navigation is very complicated, sufficiently surfing this site may not be as easy as flipping a real book. So for new viewers, it is recommended to read How to find your way around www.wto.org first. For experienced researchers, a good starting point is A-Z list or site map which is much easier to navigate than its graphic version. In general, there are three sections in this site:To understand the structure of the the organization, who's who and the mechanism of how the WTO works, see What is the WTO? To locate documents on trade issues, see Trade Topics which includes rules and regulations on trade in goods, services, intellectual property and trade dispute settlement and other issues such as investment, e-commerce. To search for economic data of world trade, WTO publications, documents, legal texts, see Resources.
Report on Doha Round of Multilateral Negotiations Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP produces a periodic report on the status of Doha Round of negotiations. This is the latest update of the report. Courtesy of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP.
Selected links (Prof. Zamora's Class) on Trade in Goods and Services from WTO site:
Trade in Goods:
Subsidies and Countervailing Measures
Technical Barriers to Trade
Trade in Service:
GATS: objectives, coverage and disciplines
GATS (full text in pdf)
WTO: Dispute Settlement
WTO Archive list of panel and Appellate Body Reports
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International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) . ICC is a world business organization founded in 1919. It promotes international trade and investment and market economy. ICC lays out rules governing cross border trade. The rules are observed by international businesses on a voluntary basis.
The ICC international Court of Arbitration is a leading organization for international trade dispute settlement.
ICC Member companies
ICC Institute of World Business Law Conference Reports
ICC Rules and Clauses for Disput Resolution Services
Back to TopUN Commissions on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is the core legal body within the United Nations system. It promotes the progressive harmonization and unification of international trade law.Introduction to the UNCITRALInternational Labor Organization (ILO) Labor standards are hot issues that are often raised in international trade disputes. The ILO is the UN specialized agency that promotes social justice and internationally recognized human and lab our rights. It was founded in 1919.
UNCITRAL Text and Statues
UNCITRAL Case LawILO ConstitutionUN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Established in 1964 as a permanent intergovernmental body, UNCTAD is the principal organ of the United Nations General Assembly dealing with trade, investment and development issues.
FAQ on International Labor Standards
ILO Legislative Information
International Program on Elimination of Child Labor
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International Monetary Fund The idea of establishing IMF was conceived in 1944 at a United Nations Conference which was held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. It came to official existence in 1945. Now the IMF has 184 member countries. The objective of the IMF is to promote international monetary cooperation and to foster economic growth and high levels of employment.
IMF at a Glance IMF Members' Quotas and Voting Power IMF member countries don't have equal footing when it comes to a decision making process. This site provides a list of member countries and relative weights that individual members carry in voting. Country Information a good source for an economic assessment of IMF member countries. Publications
World Bank Founded in 1944, the World Bank Group is one of the world's largest sources of development assistance. The Bank provided US$19.5 billion in loans to its client countries in fiscal year 2002, is now working in more than 100 developing economies. World Bank: International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) was created in 1966 to facilitate the settlement of investment disputes between governments and foreign investors.
List of Contracting States
Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) PCA was founded in The Hague in 1899 during the first Hague Peace Conference. The 1899 Convention, which provided the legal basis for the PCA, was revised at the second Hague Peace Conference in 1907. There are currently 97 States which are parties to one or both of the Conventions.
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Regional Trade-North America
Regional Trade-North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) the site of the NAFTA secretariat with information on the dispute settlement proceedings, legal texts and panel decisions and reports respecting the NAFTA.
Related Sites on NAFTA:
North American Consortium on Legal Education (NACLE)
Center for the Study of Western Hemisphere at Texas A&M University.
SICE Site Free Trade Agreements Provides trade agreements (full text) between Central and South America Countries as well as with the U.S. , Canada and the European Union.
European Union (EU) The European integration process was launched in 1950's.
European Free Trade Association (EFTA)
The EFTA was established in 1960 based on a Convention signed in Stockholm. Now the Association includes 4 member states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, with headquarters in Geneva and offices in Brussels and Luxembourg.
The main objective of the EFTA is to provide a framework for the liberalization of trade in all forms among its member countries. The EFTA countries also maintain close trade relations with EU countries. Here is the the full text of the EFTA convention including annexes and joint declarations
The EEA (European Economic Area) was created in 1994 and allows the EEA EFTA States (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to participate in the Internal Market on the basis of their application of Internal Market relevant acquis.
Central Europe Free Trade AreaCEFTA was based on the Central European Free Trade Agreement, which was signed on 21 December 1992 in Krakow, Poland. Since then it has expanded tremendously and the list of all member states as well as all legal texts can be found on the CEFTA2006 website. It was created as a preparation for full EU membership, with the major objective of the CEFTA to remove trade barriers and promote fair trade among member states.
Regional Trade-- Asia/Pacific
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)The APEC was established in 1989 with a goal of advancing Asia-Pacific economic corporations and trade. The U.S. is a member of the APEC.
Economic Indicators for APEC Member Economies This website was created in 2010 and provides a detailed analysis of trade, financial and socio-economic trends in the Asia-Pacific region. Access to this database is free-of-charge and the data can be exported to Microsoft Excel.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) A regional organization to promote economic growth, social progress, culture development and regional peace.
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)
The OPEC is an international Organization of countries which rely heavily on oil revenue. It was created at the Baghdad Conference in 1960, by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Currently the OPEC has 12 members--Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela. The 12 member states of the OPEC collectively supply the majority of the world's oil output, and possess more than three-quarters of the world's total proven crude oil reserves.
Economic Community of West African States The ECOWAS is a regional group of fifteen countries, founded in 1975. Its mission is to promote economic integration in all fields of economic activity.
Regional Trade-Central and South America
Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) The objective of FTAA is to integrate the economies of the Western Hemisphere into a single free trade arrangement. It will progressively eliminate barriers to trade and investment among its member countries. The FTAA agreement was signed in 1994 in Miami, Florida. This site is one the most valuable sources for searching economic and trade information about south and central countries.
FTAA ministerial meeting
Organization of American States (OAS) The OAS was established in 1948. According to the Charter of the OAS, the objective of the OAS is to achieve an order of peace and justice, to promote solidarity, to strengthen collaboration, and to defend sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their independence.
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U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics is the official source for U.S. export and import statistics and responsible for issuing regulations governing the reporting of all export shipments from the United States.
U.S. International Trade Administration: Office of Industry Analysis within the International Trade Administration, provides information and analysis pertaining to issues affecting U.S. industry competitiveness to facilitate the establishment of sound policies that contribute to U.S. economic welfare.
International Accounts Data collected by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) to promote a better understanding of the U.S. economy by providing the most timely, relevant, and accurate economic accounts data in an objective and cost-effective manner.
Canada: Economic Analysis, Statistics Provides statistics on trade and economy in Canada.
WTO Trade statistics
World Bank: Data & Statistics
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International trade in the news
Sources for which the O’Quinn Law Library has a subscription:
- Columbia International Affairs Online
- Law Info China only one person at a time can access, so if you don’t get in right away, try again.
The following a links to a number of news sources on the web:
Apart from research guides created by UHLC law librarians and available on the law library website, there are a number of good guides “out there”. In particular:
- International Law in Brief by American Society of International Law. It is a good source to trace the development of International Law from 1998.
- Research Guides on International Economic Law Hosted by American Society of International Law
- New York University Law School Globalex This page contains sources on international, comparative and foreign law research guides.
- Guide to International Trade Law Sources on the Internet by Marci Hoffman, provides excellent research strategy and treaty sources.
- Pace University CISG Page A comprehensive source for CISG research, includes the code and cases.
- Cornell International Law search a comprehensive source for finding primary laws on international trade.
- Global Trade Negotiations Hosted by Harvard University.