International Economic Law (LAWS5139)


This course is an introduction to international regulation of trade, mainly the law of the World Trade Organization but with some comparisons with Bilateral and Regional Trade Agreements and may also cover an introduction to Bilateral Investment Treaties.
The largest part of the course deals with the law of the World Trade Organization, supplemented at certain points by consideration of bilateral or regional trade agreements. The first section considers the functions of the WTO utilizing some very basic economics of trade, public choice and game theory. We review the history of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade ('GATT'), regulating trade in goods, and the creation of the WTO ending with a review of the institutions of the WTO and of the framework of rules applying under the GATT (with a comparison with regulation of trade in goods under bilateral and regional agreements). There follows a detailed study of the WTO dispute settlement system, under the WTO Understanding on Dispute Settlement, its concepts, procedures and enforcement. We study the framework of rules under the General Agreement on Trade in Services ('GATS') and also introduce the different framework of rules utilised under some bilateral or regional agreements for regulating trade in services; and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property ('TRIPS'), emphasizing patents, copyright and trademarks, and noting some TRIPS plus aspects of some bilateral and regional trade agreements. The unit analyses in more detail some of the fundamental rules of the GATT: rules on tariff bindings and customs duties, national treatment, non-tariff barriers, the MFN rule on non-discrimination, an introduction to the rules on subsidies, and the GATT article XX exceptions for restrictions for health and
environmental reasons. The rest of the course is selected from three areas:
- Bilateral Investment Treaties;
- further aspects of Bilateral or Regional Trade Treaties; and
- selected further topics of World Trade Organization law drawn from four areas: the GATT escape clauses providing for Safeguard measures, Anti-dumping Duties and Countervailing Duties; further
consideration of the MFN rule by considering the exception for free trade areas and customs unions; further consideration of the GATS by considering at least one specific service sector, and further consideration of the TRIPS by considering the extent of some exceptions.

Our courses that offer this unit of study

Further unit of study information


1 x 6.5hr seminar/wk for 6 weeks (weeks 2 - 8)


2,500wd essay (33.3%) and 2.5hr exam (66.6%)


Reading materials to be advised in reading guide.

Faculty/department permission required?


Unit of study rules


LAWS2005 or LAWS1018 or LAWS1023 or LAWS5005


LAWS3090 or LAWS3439

Study this unit outside a degree

Non-award/non-degree study

If you wish to undertake one or more units of study (subjects) for your own interest but not towards a degree, you may enrol in single units as a non-award student.

Cross-institutional study

If you are from another Australian tertiary institution you may be permitted to underake cross-institutional study in one or more units of study at the University of Sydney.