E-Commerce Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements and Dispute Settlement: An Evolving Standard?: Marc Froese (Burman University) Abstract: There are 288 regional trade agreements in force as of September 2018, approximately one quarter (27%) of which have e-commerce provisions. These e-commerce chapters have evolved over time, from simple, non-binding statements, to more comprehensive attempts to harness the transformative potential of the digital economy for economic and social development. This study tests the hypothesis that as e-commerce chapters have become more common and more detailed, their legal enforceability has also risen. Enforceability is measured using a qualitative and empirical analysis of 78 e-commerce chapters in regional trade agreements notified to the World Trade Organization. The first section develops a review of the overlapping literatures around binding state to state dispute settlement for the purposes of regulating the digital economy. The second section uses count data and text-as-data to develop a time-sequence, process tracing analysis of the relationship between e-commerce chapters and dispute settlement, with an emphasis on trend development, from earliest e-commerce provisions in 2001 to second-generation agreements such as those signed by Canada with Europe (CETA), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and with the US and Mexico (USMCA). The third section discusses the implications of this evolving relationship between e-commerce provisions and dispute settlement for both regional trade development as well as the multilateral governance of trade.
Reputation in International Agreements: Dispute Settlement in Bilateral Investment Treaties: Stefano Burzo (University of British Columbia) Abstract: When conflict arises between investors and countries hosting foreign direct investment (FDI), investors can often resort to dispute settlement mechanisms. The most common choice is the International Court for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Contemporary literature suggests that whenever a host country goes through an investment dispute, its trustworthiness in the eyes of current and potential investors diminishes – regardless of the outcome. This may not be the whole story. This study proposes a new reputational mechanism, suggesting that when countries settle or win a dispute at the ICSID their reputation may in fact be strengthened. This causal mechanism accounts for part of the variation currently unexplained in the literature. This study uses a unique dataset and a new identification strategy to perform a survival analysis on ICSID cases filed until 2016, to estimate the likelihood of settling a case at any point in time after the filing. To do this, the dataset tracks individual cases. The findings may have policy implications for countries with significant FDI inflows – including China, the United States and most members of the European Union.