ABSTRACT

Trade forms an increasingly important aspect of international relations. The volume of world trade in goods topped $5 trillion for the fIrst time in 1996, having grown at an average rate of about 8 per cent a year since the signing of the Marrakesh agreement in 1994 marking the completion of the Uruguay Round of trade negotiations begun in 1986.1 The multilateral trading system (MTS) overseen by the World Trade Organization (WTO) now covers areas such as agriculture, services, intellectual property, textiles, technical barriers to trade, and health standards, representing a significant extension in scope compared to its pre-Vruguay Round version; it is likely to be further developed in the proposed Millennium Round of trade negotiations scheduled to begin at the end of 1999. Since the scope of trade policy is so much wider than hitherto, in turn this means that trade regulation increasingly impinges on other areas of policy, such as environmental protection. As the chair of a WTO dispute panel described it, 'trade policy and regulation [now] emerge as the prime instruments of foreign policy. They take centre stage. Enforcement of foreign policies essentially operates with economic incentives, of which market access assumes a key role. Traditional means, such as territorial control or military operations, are no longer suitable and available'.2