Professor Fiona Smith


I joined the Law School in 2017 as Professor of International Economic Law, having previously held positions at University of Warwick and UCL. In 2018, I was appointed as Associate Director for the Global Food and Environment Institute at the University of Leeds, where I lead multidisciplinary research on agrifood supply chains. I am also a member of the university’s Horizons Institute’s Academic Oversight Board.I have been Visiting Professor at several law schools in the USA, including University of Minnesota, University of Michigan, and Boston College Law School. My research focuses on international trade law in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), with a specialist interest in international agricultural trade and investment.

I have published widely on international agricultural trade and have spoken about my research to public and private sector audiences throughout the world. In 2020, I was appointed Specialist Advisor to the House of Commons International Trade Committee for its scrutiny of the UK’s post-Brexit trade agreements, and to the UK Department of International Trade’s Expert Stakeholder Group working on the UK trade policy position in the G7, G20, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2017, I was Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee for its Report on Brexit: Agriculture, and I have given expert evidence to the House of Commons International Trade, and Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committees, the UK Trade and Agriculture Commission, and the Welsh National Assembly, External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee on several occasions. I was an invited expert for the European Commission, [DG DSANCO], Working Group on EU Food Safety in Nutrition in 2050; the joint DEFRA/UK Treasury,Balance of Competence Review: Agriculture evaluating the relationship between the EU and the UK; and to the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s Farmers’ Scientist Network advising on the Implications of Brexit for Agriculture in the UK. At present, my research focuses on the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy, new theoretical perspectives underpinning international economic law, and how to embed sustainability within global agrifood supply chains.

Currently, I am leading a multidisciplinary consortium funding bid for UKRI on ‘Transforming UK Commodity Trade for Healthy Diets and a Healthy Planet’ (Trade2Health) and am a member of a successful Horizon Europe funding bid, ‘Transforming Food Systems (including food trade) between countries in South East Africa and the EU’ (FoSTA-Health) where I co-lead a work package with Dr Betty Waized, (Sokoine University, Tanzania), that focuses on creating domestic export markets for fresh fruits and vegetables from Tanzania and South Africa into the EU. 


  • Associate Director for AgriFood Supply Chains, Global Food & Environment Institute

Research interests

My research takes a distinctive and original approach to the study of international economic law. I challenge the orthodox view that the problems of international trade and investment will be resolved once a strong normative regime is created. I have argued in my published work instead 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 my work. Another strand to my work considers the way language works in international trade rules. This has led me to engage directly with debates about law and language, particularly the work of James Boyd White.

Recent Publications:

  • ‘A New Dawn? The UK’s Emergent Agrifood Trade Strategy after Brexit,’ (2022) Kings Law Journal Special Edition, ‘Global Britain,’ (in review).
  • ‘Trade in Agriculture,’ in D Bethlehem, D McRae, R Neufeld & I Van Damme (eds) The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law, 2nd ed, (2022), OUP, Ch20, 553-573.
  • ‘Brexit as Trade Governance,’ (2019) 20(5) Journal of World Investment and Trade 654-679. 
  • ‘Charting a New Course for the United Kingdom Agri-Food Sector-Health and Harmony: The Future for Food, Farming and the Environment in a Green Brexit,’ (with Professor Michael Cardwell, University of Leeds), (2018) 89(3) Political Quarterly 497-502.
  • ‘From Agriculture to Food Security: Embedded Liberalism and Stories of Regulatory Failure,’ in G. Moon & L. Toohey (eds), The Future of International Economic Integration: The Embedded Liberalism Compromise Revisited (2018) Cambridge University Press, Chapter 6, ISBN 978-1-316-51017-9, at 81-10.
  • ‘Natural Resources and Global Value Chains: What Role for the WTO?’ (2015) 11(2) International Journal of Law in Context 135-152.
  • ‘Food Security and Agri-Foreign Direct Investment in Weak States: Finding the Governance Gap to Avoid Land Grab,’ with Dr Christian Haberli, World Trade Institute, Bern, Switzerland, (2014) 77(2) Modern Law Review 189-222.

Recent Policy and Impact work:

  • Special Adviser, UK House of Commons International Trade Committee for its scrutiny of the UK’s first post-Brexit trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, 2021-2022.
  • Member, UK Department of International Trade (DIT) Steering Group on UK trade policy positions in the G7, G20 and WTO, 2020-.
  • Expert Witness, UK House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) on the impact of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement on UK agrifood industry and food standards, February 2022.
  • Expert Witness, statutory UK Trade and Agriculture Commission on the ‘Impact of the UK-Australia Free Trade Agreement on UK legislative agrifood standards,’ February 2022.
  • Expert witness, WWF for its Report on ‘UK Environmental Standards for Agrifood Imprts,’ December 2021.
  • Expert Witness, non-statutory UK Trade and Agriculture Commission on ‘Facilitating Consumer Values through WTO rules and trade agreements,’ October 2020.
  • Member, Executive Committee of the Trade and Agriculture Advisory Committee chaired by the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission, August 2020.
  • Expert witness to the House of Commons International Trade Committee on the impact of Covid-19 on Food Supply Chains, April 2020, cited in report of the Committee, ‘The Covid-19 Pandemic and International Trade,’ HC286, 23 July 2020 at pp15 & 31. 

Recent Public Lectures:

  • ‘Trade, agriculture and climate change: standards and beyond,’ Trade Justice Movement webinar, April 2022.
  • ‘Sustainable Trade in Sustainable Food Systems: Trade in Plant-Based Protein,’ GFEI Lunchtime seminar series, November 2021.
  • ‘Agrifood Trade and Climate Change,’ for All Parliamentary Group on COP26, November 2021.
  • ‘Food Standards in the UK after Transition,’ ‘Trade Bites’ podcast, December 2020.
  • ‘Will the current trade negotiations for the UK provide resilience within global supply chains,’ Agribusiness 2021, Annual Conference for the Agriculture Industries Confederation, November 2020.
  • ‘Once Brexit is Done, what next for Food?’ City University Food Thinkers’ Lecture series, February 2020.
  • ‘Agriculture after Brexit’ Oxford Farming Conference, January 2020.

Recent Conference Papers:

  • ‘Trade in the Critical Zone,’ for Symposium on ‘Sociological Perspectives on International Economic Law and Human Rights,’ European University Institute, Florence, Italy, May 2022.
  • ‘Strategic Litigation in International Economic Law,’ University of Aberdeen Seminar Series, October 2019.
  • ‘Dystopian Food Trade: A Future without the WTO,’ for Dystopia/Utopia: Imagining the Future of the Global Trading System,’ University of Tokyo, Japan/University of Wollangong, Australia, October 2019.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD
  • LLM in European and International Trade Law
  • LLB

Professional memberships

  • Society of International Economic Law
  • International Law Association
  • Higher Education Academy (formerly, Institute of Learning and Teaching,) Experienced Teacher

Student education

International Economic Law, MScini Sustainable Food Systems (Global Value Chains module)


Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Business Law and Practice
  • Centre for Law and Social Justice
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>