Brexit as Trade Governance - Fiona Smith Inaugural Lecture

Professor Fiona Smith will deliver her Inaugural Lecture on Brexit as Trade Governance. All welcome.


On 29th March 2017, the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, gave notice to the European Council President, Donald Tusk, of the UK’s intention to leave the European Union (EU). The UK is now engaged in complex discussions with the EU to determine the terms of the withdrawal agreement and the UK-EU trade relationship after Brexit. Whatever its final form, the EU-UK trade agreement must conform to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and be acceptable to the other WTO member states. The WTO rules are only partial, however, and were not designed to facilitate the withdrawal of a state from a regional trade agreement, the consequent contraction of an area of previously liberalised trade nor the potential (re)emergence of ‘protectionist’ trade barriers.

The EU-UK trade agreement must transcend this problem by creating legally binding trade rules in an otherwise vacant multilateral legal space. At the same time, the EU-UK trade agreement will also redefine the terms on which third country WTO members trade with the EU. This occurs because preferential trade terms enjoyed by third countries with the EU cease to exist when they are reallocated to the UK alone and the intrinsic value of those preferential trade terms changes after BREXIT. The scale of the change means BREXIT represents a reordering of the terms of trade both between the EU and non-EU WTO members. In this paper, I explore the idea that this rule creation and reordering of trade relations is a new form of trade governance that reinvigorates the multilateral rule-making project in the WTO.    

About the Speaker

Professor Fiona Smith joined the Law School in 2017 having previously held positions at University of Warwick and UCL. I've also been Visiting Professor at University of Minnesota, University of Michigan and Boston College Law School. Her research focuses on international trade law in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) particularly agricultural trade. Additionally she is Editorial Board member and European Book Review Editor for the Journal of International Economic Law.

Fiona's research takes a distinctive and original approach to the study of international economic law. She challenges the orthodox view that the problems of international trade and investment will be resolved once a strong normative regime is created. In her published work, she arguesinstead that the area is so politically dynamic, that conventional ideas about how regulation works are inappropriate. The value and very idea of "regulation" is often neglected in existing scholarship, but lies at the centre of her work. Another strand to her work considers the way language works in international trade rules. This has led her to engage directly with debates about law and language, particularly the work of James Boyd White.

Please click here to register for Fiona's lecture.

The lecture will be followed by a wine reception. 

Location details

Moot Court,
School of Law
Liberty Building
University of Leeds

For sat navs, please use the postcode for Moorland Road, LS6 1AN. 

The Liberty Building can also be found on the campus map

All welcome. This is a free event, though registration is required.

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