Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



World trade and investment law is in crisis: new and progressive ideas are needed. Rules that facilitated globalization and supported global economic growth are being challenged. A system of global governance that once seemed secure is now at risk as the US ignores the rules while developing countries struggle to escape restrictions. Some want to tear global institutions and agreements down while others try desperately to maintain the status quo. Rejecting both options, we convened a group of trade and investment law experts from 10 countries South and North who have proposed ideas for a new world trade and investment law that would maintain global growth while distributing costs and benefits more fairly. This essay frames the issues and introduces the volume. We look at the impact of trade and investment law on the global distribution of resources, and pay special attention to those who have suffered from trade dislocation and to restrictions that have hampered innovative growth strategies in developing countries. This perspective shapes a progressive trade and investment law agenda that is outlined in the book and summarized here. We suggest new ways to link trade with protection for labor; measures to ensure that gains from trade are used to offset loses; new rules that can protect foreign investments without hamstringing developing governments or harming local communities; innovative procedures to allow developing countries freedom to try innovative growth strategies; and methods to cope with new products like cannabis.

Publication Citation

David Trubek, Alvaro Santos & Chantal Thomas, Introduction: World Trade and Investment Law in a Time of Crisis: Distribution, Development and Social Protection, in World Trade and Investment Law Reimagined: A Progressive Agenda for an Inclusive Globalization 1-28 (Alvaro Santos, Chantal Thomas & David Trubek eds., London: Anthem Press 2019).