Victorious after World War II and the Cold War, the United States and its allies largely wrote the rules for international trade and investment. Yet, by 2020, it was the United States that became the great disrupter – disenchanted with the rules' constraints. Paradoxically, China, India, Brazil, and other emerging economies became stakeholders in and, at times, defenders of economic globalization and the rules regulating it. Emerging Powers and the World Trading System explains how this came to be and addresses the micropolitics of trade law – what has been developing under the surface of the business of trade through the practice of law, which has broad macro implications. This book provides a necessary complement to political and economic accounts for understanding why, at a time of hegemonic transition where economic security and geopolitics assume greater roles, the United States challenged, and emerging powers became defenders, of the legal order that the United States created.
"Gregory Shaffer has written a superb analysis of the crisis in the legal order governing world trade. The core of the book consists of co-authored studies of the engagement with the trading system of China, most significantly, but also of Brazil and India. But the decisive actor now turns out to be the US, which has increasingly lost faith in the system it created. In the future, suggests Shaffer, international rules must grant countries greater room to act and also to react to the actions of others. Yet an agreed interface between systems is also vital if the world is to enjoy a measure of stability and peace."
Martin Wolf, Financial Times
“For decades, international trade has been at the heart of globalization. And as Shaffer brilliantly illuminates in this book, trade—and the way countries like China, India and Brazil have used the laws and regulations that govern it to promote their own interests—has very much shaped the world we live in today. But globalization is now changing trajectory, and the way trade laws and regulations evolve from here will shape tomorrow’s world. Which makes Emerging Powers and the World Trading System essential reading for policymakers and academics alike. A book written exactly for our current moment.”
Ian Bremmer, President of Eurasia Group, founder of GZERO Media
"Gregory Shaffer unpacks an extraordinarily complex set of facts, rules, politics and decisions across multiple countries in the service of three basic and important questions about power shifts in the global trading system. His focus on "legal capacity" is striking, merging legal, political and sociological analysis to demonstrate the ways in which private power – the training and deployment of lawyers and arbitrators – and public power intersect. Emerging Powers and the World Trading System makes an important theoretical as well as empirical contribution."
Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO New America
“This fascinating book shows how international trade law changed China, India, and Brazil – and how these countries in turn changed trade law. It thereby sheds light on an important puzzle: how is it that the United States, the predominant power behind the shaping of the current international trade regime, came to see itself as a victim of it? Shaffer’s superb account is a model of how to analyze the constitutive aspects of the law without ignoring the role of economic and political power.”
Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
“A monumental achievement! Not only does Shaffer provide a comprehensive elucidation of how we got to where we are on trade law, but he also lays out a broader framework and methodology for understanding how the international system changes over time. A superb example of work that is both theory-generating and empirically grounded, with implications for multiple disciplines.”
Tom Ginsburg, Leo Spitz Professor of International Law and Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
“Gregory Shaffer has researched the global diffusion of international trade rules for over two decades. This unique book synthesizes developments across China, Brazil, and India – as well as the United States – putting this critical moment for the multilateral trading system into fascinating historical context.”
Chad P. Bown, Reginald Jones Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics
“Shaffer broadens our gaze, deepens our knowledge, and connects the micro to the macro in explaining how the international trade regime works. In doing so, he not only furnishes us with critical knowledge of Brazil, India, and China, and their relation to the trade law system; he also provides a masterclass in how to undertake transnational research."
Anthea Roberts, Professor at the School of Regulation and Global Governance, Australia National University
“Professor Shaffer’s work eloquently illuminates a complex but vital subject -- the law’s power to shape a more inclusive model of transnational trade. By examining how and by whom the rules have been written and rewritten, he details the ways in which emerging economies like Brazil, China, and India can spur the creation of capabilities needed to help reform and rebuild the multilateral trading system, so that the benefits of trade accrue to all. This is an important contribution to our understanding of recent geopolitical history and the forces that will continue to define our future.”
Roberto Azevêdo, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (2013-2020); Ambassador of Brazil to the WTO (2008-2013)
“Greg Shaffer’s dogged and exhaustive research provides an unparalleled and realistic insider’s guide to how the WTO dispute settlement system has operated behind the headlines in the first 25 years of its existence. Professor Shaffer has properly put his focus on the three emerging giants in the world economy – China, India, and Brazil – and their ability to make strategic use of the dispute settlement system to advance their trading interests. His analysis will be invaluable for WTO Members and the broader trade community to make the necessary mid-course corrections to the WTO dispute settlement system that must continue to provide an invaluable resource for countries to settle their trade-related differences in the decades ahead.”
Scott Andersen, former Managing Partner of the Geneva office of Sidley & Austin and former member of the U.S. Mission to the WTO
“International economic law can only be understood from a holistic view of law, economics, and politics. Here we finally have a study that offers sophisticated analysis of legal constraints and their economic impact while attending to political context within countries and the power politics between them. In a masterful study, Shaffer explores how Brazil, China, and India interact with the World Trade Organization. The book compellingly portrays how emerging powers were changed by engagement in the international trade system and, in turn, forced responses and adaptation to those rules, including in the states that originally drove their formation. From rich details based on local knowledge to larger questions about the survival of the trade regime, this book should be required reading for scholars, trade officials and practitioners.”
Christina L. Davis, Professor of Government, Harvard University, and Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor, Radcliffe Institute
“This brilliant and artfully narrated comparative assessment from the inside, of the strategies by which three ascendant member states within the WTO have gained power through legal capacity has been achieved by a sustained, collaborative practice of the fieldwork method which ethnographers of elite cultures in the changing international system would be proud of, might be envious of, but most importantly, can learn from.”
George E. Marcus, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine, member of French-funded collaborative anthropological team study of the WTO, 2008-2013, and co-editor of Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography
“At a time when the world is struggling to understand the trade policies of the Trump Administration and what motivated them, Greg Shaffer has provided compelling answers grounded in decades of research along with case studies of the shifts in economic power and legal capacity in China, India and Brazil. If you want to understand the past and the future of the transnational legal order for trade, read this book!”
Jennifer Hillman, Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; former member of WTO Appellate Body, Commissioner of the U.S. International Trade Commission, and USTR General Counsel
“Changes in international trade and the legal economic order cannot be understood without taking into account the impact of emerging economies such as China, Brazil and India. Any analysis is incomplete without considering their legal capacity and practice. Professor Gregory Shaffer’s book provides the story that fills in a vacuum in the literature and becomes an obligatory reference.”
Alejandro Jara, former WTO Deputy Director-General and Ambassador of Chile to WTO