by Leonardo Borlini, Boccony University, Milan
Rather than treating the Covid era as a clear-cut chapter of exceptionalism that will just come to an ‘end’, a group of scholars and researches draws attention to continuities. Twelve contributions by stellar scholars from around the globe, including Leonardo Borlini and Giorgio Sacerdoti of the Legal Department of University Bocconi, investigate ‘The Resurgence of the State as an Economic Actor and International Trade Rules in the Covid Era’ through the prism of the Covid years—which in many ways amplified and accelerated a pendulum swing back to heightened state planning and intervention. States sought control of global value chains, restricted exports of critical commodities, intensified the scope of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), turned to subsidies and other economic policies.
Indications are many that this marks a new era of geo-economics conflicts that challenges the essence of rules and institutions of international trade law. The cost-cutting imperative of just-in-time production that – enabled by law – dominated in recent decades is centered around the idea of fairly stable political, ecological, economic and logistical conditions and left value chains ill-equipped when these parameters erode. Within the EU for instance, the Green Deal’s reliance on critical raw materials and the resulting geo-economics scramble in new strategic sectors come to mind.
The resulting Special Issue published in the 24 (1) German Law Journal (2023) shows the many faces of a return of the State, with a particular focus on subsidies and countervailing measures by governments as well as trade effects of SOEs—two issues that have stirred large controversies at the World Trade Organization and beyond. The studies in this collection offer one of the most comprehensive overviews of this topic, putting to the fore different legal mechanisms and geographical and methodological perspectives. The guest editor of the Special Issue, is Leonardo Borlini an international lawyer from University Bocconi, who, for the editing within the Journal, worked in cooperation with Prof Matthias Goldmann (EBS University Wiesbaden / Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law) Dr. Klaas Hendrik Eller (UVA).
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