Changing Notions of Sovereignty and Federalism in the International Economic System: A Reassessment of WTO Regulation of Federal States and the Regional and Local Governments Within Their Territories

Hayes, Edward T. | January 1, 2004

International trade liberalization increasingly addresses disciplines which fall within the constitutional competence of regional and local governments. Traditional notions of nation/state sovereignty are evolving to recognize the importance of regional and local actors on the international economic scene. The ongoing evolution of international trade and sovereignty incresasingly places regional and local governments in a unique position to influence world trade, positively and negatively.

This article explores the manner in which the World Trade Organization attempts to regulate regional and local behavior. Specifically, this Article explores the inherent constitutional tension and resulting ambiguities in the WTO’s effort to regulate regional and local behavior, as emboddied in GATT Article XXIV:12. The Article concludes with an exploration of alternative options for improving regional and local compliance with international trade disciplines.