The Covid 19 exogenous shock and the crafting of new multilateral trade rules on subsidies and state enterprises in the Post-Pandemic world


This Article discusses existing WTO rules on subsidies and state enterprises, relevant case law, and reform prospects in light of the geopolitical developments and changes in the global economy emerging in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. The approach taken by the Article is openly analytical, the ‘ultimate goal’ being ‘to unravel and dissect the enduring problems and emerging deficiencies of extant multilateral trade rules, and, hence, lay the ground to investigate the direction taken by future possible reforms.’ After illustrating ‘three orders of problems – of practical, ideological/political and technical nature – that makes the reform of existing disciplines a daunting task’, it critically analyzes present WTO rules on industrial subsidies, focusing inter alia on the new problems raised by activist industrial policies pursued by global trading powers, foreign subsidization, and the climate change shock. He then shifts attention to the application of WTO rules on subsidies to the state sector and the increasing demands for new international trade rules on non-subsidies measures to address the adverse spillover effects on trade from government influence on SOEs. With respect to each matter, the Author first clarifies ‘the terms of the problem in relation to existing WTO rules and caselaw’, and next examines ‘the question of how, and to what extent, ‘deeper’ FTAs – those that experts designate as models for WTO reforms on the matter – establish new rules that permit to adequately address the trade concerns raised by SOEs’ commercial and financial activities.’ Based on this multi-layered analysis, the Article concludes by examining the prospects of reform of WTO rules on state interventionism.