Trade implementation and enforcement research network


What is the current context?


There is currently an open debate around the implementation and enforcement of the trade commitments and particularly, Trade and Sustainable Development (TSD) Chapters of the EU Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), and which is the most effective way of achieving the objectives of trade policy. In this context, the European Commission is undertaking a review to improve the implementation and enforcement of agreements and of its trade policy strategy and there is an important need to provide a stronger evidence-base on the topic. Reforms are going in other parts of the world, including in the approaches of Canada, the European Free Trade Association, and the United States. What is also in flux is the role of international organisations, civil society and businesses in monitoring, implementation and enforcement of an ever-widening range of trade laws. A range of global events have increased the importance of trade policy and many countries have highlighted the need to remain open. Countries also continue to negotiate and conclude trade agreements but sometimes those agreements are outpaced by developments on the ground. In our recent study, we found the extent to which context matters in the transferability of implementation and enforcement practices. Research on these topics has remained compartmentalised and vis-à-vis implementation and enforcement still insufficient to provide us with the necessary tools to understand this future direction of policy. The rationale for the network is to bring the different tiers of trade policy research together to inform the research puzzle set out here. It also aims to bridge a long-lasting gap between qualitative and quantitative research approaches to trade policy. This need is 2 brought about by the fact that FTAs, but also other trade instruments like autonomous measures or executive agreements go much beyond tariffs and touch upon a range of different areas, as well as the heart of the functions of states – including regulation, security and industrial policies. Finally, research network aims to provide a platform for early career researchers and PhD candidates, who have felt severely the impact of Covid 19 on their lives and research. Membership of the TIER network is not only open to those beyond academia but also encouraged since our recent experience highlights the need for advancing in parallel academic research and policy reform.