From Rule-takers to Rule-makers: Emerging Powers in the Regulation of International Trade (SNIS-Project)

DURATION OF THE PROJECT: September 2012 - June 2016

Over the past two decades, new economic powers have arisen within the world trading system. Brazil, China, India and Mexico are becoming influential players within an international regime whose core principles, rules and procedures have been shaped by others, notably the US and the European Union, prior to the formers’ ascent. Whereas the shifts in economic power are by now well documented, we know relatively little about what large emerging economies seek from the global system and how they pursue their interests in particular in the global trade regime.



This project featured a comparative research design examining the foreign economic policy behaviour of Brazil, China, India and Mexico in three contested fields of trade regulation: competition law, intellectual property rights and services-related labour mobility. These regulatory fields touch so-called “behind-the-border” issues and have far reaching implications for the role of the state in economic development.

Two of these fields flow directly from the regulatory agenda of the EU and the US – competition law and intellectual property rights – partly evoking vivid resistance and alternative approaches from countries such as Brazil and India in particular, whereas the promotion of labour mobility is a priority of the emerging countries meeting the resistance of Western powers.

In short, the project sought to understand when and under which conditions emerging powers evolve from rule-takers to rule-makers in trade regulation, through which venues and with which implications for the substance and architecture of the international trade regime.





Project Leader: PD Dr. Mira Burri