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The Three-Dimensional International Trade War: Strategic Positioning for Canada in WTO, NAFTA, and Bilateral Battles

The Conference Board of Canada, October 18, 2018
Recorded Webinar
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Trade friction at three different levels has exploded into war on three fronts—bilateral, regional and multilateral. The agreement to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) eases tensions on one front (regional), but other battles remain to be settled. Amid the "fog" of war, Canadian businesses have no choice but to plan strategically and consider ways to position themselves to profit—or at least minimise losses. The good old days of happy, duty-free, quota-free, North-South trade in the NAFTA context are over.

In the immediate aftermath of the USMCA announcement and just weeks before the U.S. Congressional elections, this recorded webinar should prove especially timely. Raj Bhala will help participants understand what is happening in cross-border trade in goods and services and foreign direct investment, why it is happening, and how Canadian leaders can respond thoughtfully and effectively.

Webinar Highlights

In this recorded webinar, Raj shares his insights on the trade battles that are occurring at all three levels:

  • At the World Trade Organization (WTO), battles are fought over Appellate Body candidates, so the "crown jewel" of the WTO, the adjudicatory function, is under siege. Battles rage over fishing subsidies, too, thus imperilling its negotiating function. What should Canadian businesses expect from Canada's participation in the multilateral trading regime?
  • At the regional level, what can be expected to change between NAFTA and USMCA, and to what end? Will the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), now the Comprehensive and Progressive TPP (CPTPP) without the U.S. succeed? Amid the changing pattern of FTAs and rules of origin, what factors should Canadian businesses consider when expanding to new markets?
  • At the bilateral level, the battles over steel, aluminium, and auto and auto parts are heated, as the tariffs were imposed on the basis of national security under Section 232 of America's 1962 Trade Expansion Act. Likewise, the China-America IP battles rage under Section 301 of America's 1974 Trade Act. What should Canadian businesses consider when dealing with "America First"?

About Raj

Photo of Raj Bhala Raj Bhala is the Brenneisen Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas School of Law. A native of Toronto, Raj joined the University of Kansas in 2003 from George Washington, where he held the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professorship, before which he began his teaching career at William & Mary. He also lectures across the world, and in 2019 will teach intensive International Trade Law courses at Tel Aviv University and the University of Auckland.

Raj practiced at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where he twice won the President’s Award for Excellence, thanks to his service as a delegate to the United Nations Conference on International Trade Law. He is a Senior Advisor at Dentons U.S. LLP., and served as an International Legal Consultant for the Bahraini and Saudi offices of Blake, Cassels & Graydon (Canada).

Raj is author of one of the world’s leading textbooks, International Trade Law: An Interdisciplinary, Non-Western Textbook, the new (5th) edition of which is in production, and the first treatise on GATT in nearly 50 years, Modern GATT Law. He is the first non-Muslim American scholar to write a textbook on Islamic Law, Understanding Islamic Law (Shari‘a), and teaches this course to U.S. Special Operations Forces. His newest book is on the Trans Pacific Partnership, TPP Objectively, and he is working on one on India, Business Law of Modern India.

Raj is a columnist on international law and economics, writing “On Point” for Bloomberg Quint (Mumbai) .

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