Trade Agreements and Regulatory Autonomy: The Effect on National Interests


Trade Agreements and Regulatory Autonomy: The Effect on National Interests



Published in Learning from the Past, Adapting for the Future: Regulatory Reform in New Zealand, Susy Frankel, ed.

International economic law agreements – including the World Trade Organization (WTO); free trade agreements (FTAs); and bilateral investment treaties (BITs) – can impact regulatory freedom in a number of important ways. Such agreements may include provisions that either mandate or encourage regulatory reform. Reforms may be called for in order to effectuate harmonisation; to facilitate cross-border trade and investment through regulatory cooperation; or merely to comply with newly established international, plurilateral, or bilateral standards. New Zealand’s participation in an array of trading arrangements, therefore, has significant implications for the country’s regulatory autonomy and ability to effect policy decisions. Trade agreements can impact New Zealand’s regulatory options both directly – through provisions in agreements to which New Zealand is a party, and indirectly – as a result of agreements with or between some of New Zealand’s trading partners to which New Zealand is not a party. This indirect impact should not be underestimated. This chapter has three objectives: first, to identify the agreements that may impact upon New Zealand’s regulatory autonomy, both directly and indirectly (Parts II and III of this paper); second, to use the context of consumer interests to provide specific examples of the ways in which trade agreement commitments affect policymaking options (Part IV); and third to discuss empirical and further research that will be conducted in the next project phase with the aim of measuring the effects trade agreements have on New Zealand’s regulatory autonomy in the consumer interests area (Part V). Within the broad category of consumer interests, this project will focus on regulatory regimes that affect food safety/biosecurity; the safety and purchasing of pharmaceuticals and product safety and performance standards.

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WTO, World Trade Organization, free trade agreements, FTAs, bilateral investment treaties, BITs, regulatory autonomy, international trade, New Zealand


International Trade Law | Law

Trade Agreements and Regulatory Autonomy: The Effect on National Interests