Law Quadrangle (formerly Law Quad Notes)


The following essay is an excerpt adapted from The World Trading System: Law and Policy of International Economic Relations, Second Edition, being published in Jall 1997 by the MIT Press. It is printed here with permission.

Imagine you are a congressman, and the president comes to you and says he needs authority to negotiate with foreign nations for the reduction of non tariff measures (NTMs) which are restricting trade. The tariff problem, although not extinguished, has been largely resolved by multiple rounds of GATT negotiations, but now NTMs are proving damaging to the principles of comparative advantage and to world welfare. The president would like advance authority for NTM negotiations along the pattern of the traditional tariff authority. The problem is that nontariff measures reach deeply into the interstices of domestic policy and regulations. The Congres has fought lengthy battles on many such issues, including environmental standards product liability and purity requirements for medicines. The Congress does not relish the prospect of a president changing all its work through the implementation of international agreements. So you advise the president to negotiate all he wants, but to bring back for congressional approval any agreements he completes.