In the framework of the China-EU School of Law (CESL) Grant 2011 on “China and Non-Trade Concerns”, three conferences are organized. The first was held at University of Turin, Law Department & Center of Advanced Studies on Contemporary China (CASCC), Turin on November 23-24, the second at Tsinghua University, School of Law on January 14-15, 2012, the third of this series of conferences was held at Maastricht University, Faculty of Law on January 19-20, 2012.
A collected book edited by the Grant holder entitled “China’s Influence on Non Trade Concerns in International Economic Law” (tentative title) will be published with Ashgate Publishing (UK), ISBN 978-1-4094-4848-8 (under contract for publication – forthcoming 2012).
The book will be also published in Italian, Chinese and Hungarian thanks to the funding delivered by the China-EU School of Law in Beijing, the Department of Public, Civil Procedure, International and European Law at University of Milan and by the National Employment Service of Republic of Hungary.
The delocalization of production appears to be the sole response to the increasing competitive pressure exerted by low-cost producers on European firms. While this delocalization has resulted in loss of employment for European citizens within the EU, it may have a corrosive impact on the core societal values both in EU and in the host country. Both public opinion and policy makers fear that international trade, in particular a further liberalization thereof, may undermine or jeopardize policies and measures on a wide variety of issues, for example, the protection the environment and the sustainable development, good governance, cultural rights, labour rights, public health, social welfare, national security, food safety, access to knowledge, consumer interests and animal welfare. There is a general consensus that these non-trade concerns, which cover very different societal aspirations and fears, must be addressed in EU external policy and in particular measures relating to international trade and foreign direct investment. There is also the expectation that the EU should act in all the international arenas to defend and keep these values at the highest level of protection. However, many of the trade measures introduced by developed countries to address non-trade concerns have been met by developing countries with cautious distrust if not with resistance or dissent. Developing countries, including China, often doubt the authenticity of such concerns that can be inspired by protectionist aims, rather than genuine non-trade concerns. Moreover, developing countries see these measures as an attempt by developed countries to impose their social, ethical or cultural values and preferences on exporting developing countries.
Given the different and sometimes opposing interests of developing and industrialized countries, one may question whether international economic law may become a fairer system. If all the countries negotiated in international fora having always in mind the general common interests of the humanity as a whole, this would be the case. Unfortunately this is not the case: this is the reason why this project is timely and necessary. Amongst the new emerging economies, China is already playing a key role in drawing new rules of the game and it is important to evaluate, without prejudice and by taking into consideration its special context, China’s behavior internally and externally to understand which direction the world is being driven in by China.