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Politics of International Trade (PO908)


Topics covered

The following is an indicative list of topics; the precise seminar content and order may change slightly from year to year.

  • Thinking about Free Trade
  • Thinking about Economic Nationalism
  • From GATT to WTO
  • From Singapore to Hong Kong and beyond
  • First amongst Equals: US Trade Policy
  • Europe as Actor and Model
  • NAFTA, Mercosur and the FTAA
  • APEC and ASEAN+3
  • The Structure and Functioning of the WTO
  • The WTO and Dispute Settlement
  • The WTO and Civil Society
  • The Politics of Agricultural Trade
  • Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property
  • Trade in Services
  • The ‘Trade And’ Issues: Environment and Human Rights
  • Trade and Security

The aim of this module is to provide an analysis of the politics of international trade in terms of the institutions involved, patterns of domestic politics and their impact on relations between states, and the main policy issues in international trade.

The module generally seeks to locate an important set of contemporary issues in world politics within debates about globalisation, and in particular the relationship between globalisation and regionalism. Prospective students are reminded that this module is a module on the politics of international trade. Modules covering a similar area from different disciplinary perspectives are available in Economics and the Law School.

Programme content


Subject to yearly variation, the first term will usually cover the following: historical and theoretical foundations; US trade policy; and various forms of regionalism with a focus on the EU, NAFTA, APEC and Mercosur. The second term will usually focus on multilateralism and the WTO (examining structural problems at the WTO as well as Dispute Settlement); issues in trade politics including trade and security; agricultural trade; the ‘trade and’ issues including the environment; and the ‘new’ trade agenda including trade in services and trade related aspects of intellectual property rights. Seminars will consider the importance of trade policies within individual state’s development strategies, and also consider the impact of trade on regional integration.

Module Director:
Gabriel Siles-Brugge

CATS: 40

Sample reading list (PDF Document)