Should the WTO recognize legal precedent? The Walker Principles and Beyond

February 2, 2023 by Michiru Ishihara

International dispute settlement bodies generally do not recognize stare decisis. At the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU) is silent on precedent. However, in practice, the WTO Appellate Body has criticized panels for not following its prior findings. The U.S. has criticized the Appellate Body’s position over precedent, contributing to its rationale for the blockage of any process to appoint the needed Appellate Body members, and subsequently halting the entire activity of the Appellate Body. The Appellate Body has provided predictability to the international trading system. The WTO should continue its current practice of recognizing some form of legal precedent informally, while addressing the U.S.’s concerns. The Walker Principles and the relevant proposal at the DSB by Japan, Australia and Chile would be a good starting point to bridge the gap, and subsequently solve the current Appellate Body crisis. The U.S.’s concerns extend beyond the issue of precedent, but fixing this issue would be a good start to restoring a functioning Appellate Body.

Policy Brief: New Directions for Brazil's Foreign Policy Ambitions

November 28, 2022 by Mariana Negreiros Mariano and Jacob Shively

In a remarkable turn, Brazil’s former two-term president, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva—known universally as Lula—won Brazil’s 2022 presidential election. Will he also return his prior ambitions to refashion Brazil as an internationalist rising power? The election itself was razor-thin, with the final votes for each candidate separated by less than two percentage points. Whereas Lula is a leftist who espoused relatively moderate policies in office, his opponent, Jair Bolsonaro, is a classic nationalist who expressly modeled much of his approach after former US president Donald Trump. Our research suggests that both presidents’ grand strategy visions were constrained by existing commitments and larger realities. Looking forward, these findings suggest that Lula may once again work to reorient Brazil away from Bolsonaro’s nationalism; however, Lula’s ambitions are likely to be moderated based on lessons learned in prior administrations and the national inertia that channels all grand strategy ambitions.

Environmental, Social & Governance Factors Come to America

January 15, 2021 by Jacob Eigner

As European regulators turn their attention towards encouraging sustainable investing and consumers flock into ESG-themed funds, the world seems to be following suit. These grand trends toward ESG investing underscore the outsized regulatory influence and normative power of the EU. Although America under the Trump administration has thus far been an outlier, the incoming administration is likely to take aggressive action to keep pace with Europe and the world by releasing regulatory guidance encouraging investment in ESG-themed and socially responsible funds. 

Policy Brief: How Digitizing the Dollar Can Help Keep the US Reserve Currency Status

March 1, 2021 by Jacob Eigner

Thirty years after the end of the gold standard, the USD is still by far the most commonly held reserve currency and is considered the lingua franca of global trade. This status quo is immensely favorable to the U.S. but at risk of weakening due to technological friction. This brief examines the mixed blessing of reserve currency status and explains how a transition to a digital currency could reverse downward pressures on global USD use and ownership.

How Biden’s Personnel Choices will Impact Trade Policy

March 3, 2021 by Jay Rappaport

Under President Joe Biden, U.S. trade policy will change greatly, although not immediately. Even if President Biden does not materially address trade policy until after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, his remarks and nominees for international economic positions suggest what changes to U.S. trade policy he will make during the rest of his term. This blog post analyzed three key areas through the lens of President Biden's personnel and policy choices to date.