Trade agreements today are omnibus instruments characterized by extensive commitments in areas referred to as 'trade-plus' because they expand the traditional notion of trade. This Article offers an original challenge to the jumbled consensus that including trade-plus provisions in trade agreements and treating them like 'ordinary' trade issues subject to dispute settlement is all positive. Nowhere was this more obvious than in the outcome of the USA-Guatemala labor case under the US trade agreement with the Central American states. The Article critically considers for the first time the broader implications of the USA-Guatemala case for the framing of the system and concludes that the trade dispute settlement system is not well suited for these types of questions in its present iteration. In so doing, the Article seeks to draw attention to the disparity in theory and design in free trade agreements and to make some critical policy recommendations for the ongoing debate about the content and structure of trade agreements in the USA and beyond.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)