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    06.04.18 Professor Julian Arato Discusses Trade War with BBC World News
    Brooklyn Law School - Assistant Professor of Law Julian Arato

    Professor Julian Arato, an expert in international economic law and co-director of the Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law, spoke with BBC World News about a potential trade war and President Donald Trump’s national security justification.

    Appearing in a June 3 segment, Arato commented on the issues raised by citing national security as the reason for imposing the tariffs, as well as the potential involvement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which deals with the global rules of trade between nations and seeks to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.

    “The big worry in trade circles is that we are moving toward unilateralism rather than multinational resolution of disputes,” said Arato.

    The Trump administration announced last week that it would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from U.S. allies in the European Union, Canada and Mexico—a move that many lawmakers have discouraged, and which has drawn sharp reaction from foreign leaders of countries in the crosshairs. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, has called the tariffs “insulting.”

    Arato addressed concern that the WTO would be put in the position of having to rule on what constitutes “national security,” when its focus is supposed to be on trade. “That is why this implication of national security is so troubling,” he said, adding that there is an exception in the WTO agreements for actions taken in a very limited set of national security situations—such as in times of war.

    “But if a justification based on national security can be made for steel imports from Canada…or auto imports from Europe, then what wouldn’t be a national security concern?” Arato asked rhetorically. “At a certain point, the WTO and multilateral system must get involved, otherwise this becomes a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card for anybody who wants to cheat the system.” 

    Arato has written extensively on the law of treaties and treaty interpretation, the law of international organizations, and the law of foreign direct investment. Before teaching, he worked as an associate in the international arbitration group at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where his practice focused on international investment disputes and international commercial arbitration.

    Watch the BBC segment here