International Trade and International Commercial Law Research Group
The International Trade and International Commercial Law (ITICL) research group brings together expertise in the law and regulation of international trade and international commerce including the economic, social, ethical and political implications of trade and commercial law.
Our aim is to engage with key stakeholders and international partners to stimulate thoughtful and scholarly research with impact, as well as to influence legal and policy debate around international trade and international commerce. We employ a number of mechanisms to achieve this including:
- Contributing to the curricula and teaching of international trade and international commercial law, within and outside Monash University;
- Delivery of conferences, seminars and workshops for researchers and the wider public;
- Publishing research in journals, books, working papers and in the media;
- Providing a platform for obtaining competitive research grants and industry support for research; and
- Recruiting quality domestic and international graduate research students who can contribute to our research initiatives.
ITICL members undertake a range of impact and engagement activities to further enhance the group’s position as a global leader in research in the fields of international trade law (public international law), and international commercial law (private international law).
Group members View
ITICL group enquiries can be directed to:
- Dr Nicola Charwat:
+61 3 9903 1564
- Dr Benjamin Hayward
+61 3 9903 2681
Members from the Department of Business Law and Taxation
Research projects View
- The expanding field of international economic law, including intellectual and cultural property law, direct finance and international investment law and the regulation of market access and supply chain management;
- The role that nation States, international and regional organisations and institutions, and non-State actors play in the creation, implementation and enforcement of hard and soft laws that regulate international trade and commerce;
- The effectiveness of international trade and international commercial laws;
- The intersections between law and the regulation of trade and commerce, and poverty, gender and development, the environment and development, and human rights; and
- The impact, challenges and opportunities offered by international trade and international commercial law dispute resolution processes, including WTO disputes processes and international commercial arbitration, and the relations between those processes.
Our members are involved in a range of projects, and publish widely on international trade and international commercial law matters.
This research investigates the need for greater cross-border cooperation in the face of increasing financial integration among Asian countries, with particular focus on the effects of the ASEAN Economic Community.
- Dr Vivien Chen
- Associate Professor Andrew Godwin (Melbourne Law School)
- Professor Ian Ramsay (Melbourne Law School)
Project background and aims
Increasing interconnectedness in Asian financial systems suggests the need for regulatory frameworks to support regional financial stability. At the same time, the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community and initiatives such as the Asia Region Funds Passport and ASEAN CIS passport raise the need for legal frameworks to facilitate the provision of consumer redress for cross-border transactions. The research explores the need for cross-border cooperation in support of these aspects of financial integration in Asia.
The project proposes frameworks to facilitate cross-border cooperation, building on ASEAN’s established and distinct form of consensus-based cooperation, and drawing on international models of cross-border cooperation, best practices and existing mechanisms in ASEAN 5 countries. The research identifies challenges to cross-border cooperation in Asia in the area of bank resolution and potential measures to enhance cooperation. In line with the consensus-based approach that is common in Asia, these measures include strengthening regulatory harmonisation and promoting convergence in supervisory practices through the use of non-binding guidelines. Drawing on the experience in the EU and the Trans-Tasman cooperation between Australia and New Zealand, the paper proposes that convergence-promoting functions be incorporated within existing institutions and considers the use of resolution colleges. In addition, acknowledging the preference in Asia for bilateral arrangements over multilateral arrangements, the paper suggests ways in which information sharing and recognition of foreign resolution action can be enhanced and draws on the experience of Singapore for this purpose.
The research on financial consumer dispute resolution services for cross-border transactions proposes a framework based on international best practices and existing financial consumer dispute resolution mechanisms in ASEAN 5 countries. It explores the need for cross-border cooperation to facilitate the effective resolution of financial consumer disputes arising from cross-border transactions. Key proposals include requiring ASEAN CIS passport operators to submit to the jurisdiction of host country financial consumer alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. The ASEAN Committee on Consumer Protection, with its contact points in each Member State and website on available consumer redress mechanisms across ASEAN, provides a platform for the strengthening of cross-border cooperation and facilitating financial consumer access to affordable redress in cross-border transactions.
- Vivien Chen, Andrew Godwin and Ian Ramsay, ‘Consumer Financial Dispute Resolution in a Time of Increased Regulatory Scrutiny’ in Research Handbook on Asian Financial Law (Edward Elgar, 2020).
- Vivien Chen, Andrew Godwin and Ian Ramsay, ‘An ASEAN Framework for Cross-Border Cooperation in Financial Consumer Dispute Resolution’ (2017) 12 Asian Journal of Comparative Law 167.
- Vivien Chen, Andrew Godwin and Ian Ramsay, ‘Cross-border Cooperation in Bank Resolution: A Framework for Asia’  Singapore Journal of Legal Studies 1.
Disruptive technologies drive a transformative reorganisation of economic structures. This project explores how certain Southeast Asian countries can harness their potentials to achieve sustainable development.
- Professor Ching-Fu Lin (Institute of Law for Science and Technology, Taiwan)
- Dr Han-Wei Liu (Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash University)
Project background and aims
This paper was a response to the call by a leading, Geneva-based think-tank—the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) to contribute to its “Programme on Inclusive Economic Transformation.” With the view to empowering least developed countries and low-income countries across the Indo-Pacific region to achieve sustainable development and inclusive growth, this paper explores the implications of disruptive technologies—in particular, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain—for the CLMV countries (i.e., Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam) by addressing the following questions: (1) What is disruptive innovation? ; (2) What, if any, are the social and economic ramifications of these innovations? (3) Whether, and if so, with what policy tools should regulators respond to these challenges? (4) What are, if any, the implications of these regulatory interference for the existing trading and investment regime? (5) Last but certainly not least, what is the role of developing and least developed countries—inter alia, CLMV countries—amid these technological challenges? How do policymakers, through a myriad of legal and policy innovations, envision a future for the balanced coexistence of disruptive technology, inclusive and just society, and sustainable development?
As a policy paper and considering its target audience, this paper is based on not only traditional legal analysis, but also empirical data. Also, because the focal point of the paper is CLMV, which are in turn part of ASEAN, we rest our analysis on a comparative study by exploring not only CLMV but other ASEAN countries tap into disruptive technologies and manage their ramifications.
The paper argues that CLMV can leverage disruptive technologies, as some other countries have done, in five major issue areas, including reshaping property law and land registration, improving participation and access of disadvantaged groups, facilitating international trade through banking innovation, innovating food safety and supply chain management, and reinventing services and manufacturing sectors via AI. Having identified major institutional challenges for the CLMV countries to reap the benefit of disruptive technologies, this paper map out three strategies that help them align disruptive technologies with sustainable development goal. CLMV should, as the first step, improve their infrastructure and human capital. On this basis, the policymakers should engage technologically informed and adaptive regulatory reforms while at the same time, ensuring adequate accountability, transparency, and fairness when incorporating these new technologies into their respective legal regimes.
- This paper has been featured at ICTSD’s website in the form of “Issue Paper series".
- Of particular note is that co-authors were included by ICTSD to join many leading scholars in the field (e.g., Prof. Mark Wu at Harvard Law School; Prof. Petros Mavoridis at Columbia Law School) as part of its “Expert Network".
The project examines collaborative efforts by corporations and charitable organisations which support disadvantaged women micro-entrepreneurs through microfinance, business development and mentoring.
Project Background and Aims
Malaysian corporations have partnered with charitable organisations to support disadvantaged women micro-entrepreneurs through microfinance, business development and mentoring. The partnerships harness corporate social responsibility initiatives to empower women though affordable finance and community links. Preliminary evidence suggests that these innovative partnerships have contributed to poverty alleviation and improved the lives of marginalised women and their families. The research seeks to identify key features of these partnerships that have contributed to successful outcomes.
A principal aim of the project is that the knowledge it generates will aid the development of further collaborative community and corporate microfinance programmes that work to improve the lives of women and their families.
The project is funded by the Faculty of Business and Economics Australia-Malaysia 2021-2022 Research Collaboration Development Scheme.
The researchers will draw on an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from legal and regulatory studies and economics perspectives. The project employs quantitative and qualitative research methods to gain a more nuanced understanding of the key features of those partnerships which have helped alleviate poverty and disadvantage. The empirical methods for the research include randomised controlled trials and surveys to measure the impact of the interventions on women participants.
Goals, actors and techniques
Funded by an ARC Discovery Grant (DP150100504), this project investigates regulation by and of the major Australian supermarket chains.
- Christopher Arup, Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash University
- Caron Beaton-Wells, Melbourne Business School and Melbourne Law School
- Jane Dixon, Centre for Epidemiology and Public Health Australian National University
- David Merrett, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Melbourne
- Jo Paul-Taylor, Melbourne Law School
Project background and aims
The major supermarket chains have a substantial economic and social impact on consumers, businesses, workers and communities and are crucial to Australia’s economic productivity and sustainability. This project aimed to evaluate agencies, modes and rubrics of supermarket regulation.
Further particulars of the project are provided at the Project website.
The project pursues an interdisciplinary and empirical methodology, combining legal studies with regulatory studies and economic sociology.
The project found that the regulatory governance paradigm of corporate-led, market-based, regulation was not adequate to the task of safeguarding crucial stakeholder and public interests such as the sustainability of farm enterprises, worker livelihoods, urban amenities and public health. Often, conventional contract, competition and consumer law did not provide the necessary correction, yielding minimal change in the structure of the sector and the exercise of buyer power. Yet the addition of civil society co-regulation, specifically those which extol consumer-citizen activism and advocate for regulatory pluralism, makes limited gains. At times, government regulation is required, not only to mandate co-regulation, but to set minimum standards. The project explores reasons why the prevailing policy paradigm proved resistant to this regulation and ways that this regulation can be improved and strengthened. The project demonstrates the value of interdisciplinary empirical case studies and in particular the incorporation of perspectives from regulatory studies and economic sociology.
- C Arup, J Dixon and J Paul-Taylor, ‘The Essential Ingredients of Food Regulatory Governance’, Griffith Law Review 29, 2020, latest articles, at: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10383441.2020.1804659
- C Arup, ‘Labour Law Liberalisation and Regulatory Arbitrage’, Australian Journal of Labour Law 33: 183-208, 2020.
- C Beaton-Wells, ‘Antitrust’s Neglected Question: Who is the “Consumer”?’, The Antitrust Bulletin 65: 173-193, 2020.
- C Arup, ‘Enforcing Labour Standards in the Supermarket Food Supply Chain’, Australian Journal of Labour Law 32: 103-122, 2019.
- C Arup and J Paul-Taylor, ‘Planning the ACT Supermarket Competition Policy’, Local Government Law Journal 22: 125-147, 2018.
- C Arup, C Beaton-Wells and J Paul-Taylor, ‘Regulating Supermarkets: The Competition for Space’, University of New South Wales Law Journal 40: 1035-1071, 2017.
- C Beaton-Wells and J Paul-Taylor, A Code of Conduct for Supermarket-Supplier Relations: Has It Worked?’, Australian Business Law Review 46: 6-31, 2018.
- C Beaton-Wells and J Paul-Taylor, ‘Problematising Supermarket-Supplier Relations: Dual Perspectives of Competition and Fairness’, Griffith Law Review 26: 28-64, 2017.
The Interpretation of International Sales Law and International Commercial Arbitration Law in Australia
Australia has adopted internationally-promulgated laws relating to international sales and international commercial arbitration, which are all intended to promote international trade. This project addresses the extent to which they are interpreted by Australian courts in an internationalist spirit.
- Andrea Anastasi
- Dr Benjamin Hayward
- Stephanie Peta Brown
Project background and aims
Australia relies on international trade as a key source of economic activity, and its international sales law and international commercial arbitration law aim to support that trade. Those laws can only support that trade, however, if they are interpreted in an internationalist spirit: such that Australian courts’ interpretations of these laws are in step with the interpretations given to those same international texts in other courts in other countries.
This project investigates the extent to which such ‘internationalist interpretations’ are evident in Australia’s case law. A careful investigation of Australia’s recent case law discloses that internationalist interpretations of Australia’s international commercial arbitration laws have improved over time, while the opposite is true with respect to Australia’s adoption of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. This being the case, recommendations are made as to how Australian courts’ interpretations of Australia’s international sales law can be made more internationalist, and thus improved.
The researchers draw upon doctrinal analysis to determine the extent to which a legal requirement of internationalist interpretation exists for the laws under examination, and the extent to which such interpretation is evident in recent decisions of Australia’s courts.
This project considers the climate change consequences of international trade and identifies the necessity of utilizing the new generation free trade agreements in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Project background and aims
Climate change is one of the most pressing and complex problems that our planet is facing presently. International trade has become an increasingly noticeable source of greenhouse gas emissions. Trade is predicted to continue to grow considerably in the future. Its projected trajectory will in tandem accelerate carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions. As free trade agreements are being increasingly negotiated throughout the world, the questions of whether and how these agreements can be utilised to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of stabilising global warming to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, warrant more and more attention.
The project will draw on the existing empirical studies and literature and rely on a variety of other primary and secondary sources.
- Jadranka Petrovic, ‘Alleviating the Effects of Greenhouse Gas Emissions’ Journal of Business Law [forthcoming].
- Jadranka Petrovic, ‘A Tad on the Intersection between Climate Change and Free Trade Agreements’ (November 2018) ILA Reporter, http://ilareporter.org.au/2018/11/a-tad-on-the-intersection-between-climate-change-and-free-trade-agreements-jadranka-petrovic.
- Jadranka Petrovic, ‘Free Trade Agreements and the Environment’, The Just Transition towards Low-Carbon Economy Conference, Edinburgh, UK, March 2018.
- Jadranka Petrovic, ‘The CPTPP and Its Implications for the Australian Environment’, International Law Association (ILA) Conference, Sydney, Australia, August 2018.
This interdisciplinary project explores the impact of international trade law on domestic policy, regulatory actors and regulatory institutions in Australia.
Project background and aims
This project is part of an ongoing interdisciplinary collaboration exploring the impact of international trade law in Australia. In this iteration of the collaboration, we focus on the decade immediately following the signing of the GATT in 1947 and the GATT’s effect on understandings of the work of the Australian Tariff Board. The project illuminates the impact of the GATT 1947 within the state. One reason this within state aspect has been overlooked in previous work is because on signing the GATT, Australia did not undertake major legal reforms of its Tariffs or Tariff Board. Similarly, discussions of trade policy of that time –mainly by economists, political economists and diplomatic historians – generally conclude that the GATT had little discernible impact on Australia’s domestic policy and regulation in its early years. Rather, Australia’s use of import restrictions to protect its manufacturing, as permitted under the GATT’s balance of payments exceptions, meant it was ‘business as usual’.
This project challenges the view that Australia’s early engagement with GATT 1947 had little impact. We draw on recent critical explorations of international trade law and histories of international economic governance, which seek to show how institutions, such as the GATT, and the language of ‘trade liberalisation’ and economic expertise are not neutral or objective, but that they are shaped around particular understandings of ‘trade liberalisation’ (Wilkinson 2009). Using the concept of ‘discourse communities’, the GATT is understood as both a legal and ideational framework which shaped the shared ideas and understandings of international and domestic regulatory actors (ministers, trade diplomats, government advisors).
In examining the way that these actors reviewed Australia’s Tariff Board in light of new GATT obligations, the analysis points to how the constitutive ideas of GATT – about trade, economic thinking and what constitutes expert knowledge about trade – were disseminated. Specifically, this project examines how the GATT – as an instrument of international law – and Australia’s trade actors functioned as vehicles for transmitting ideas about ‘trade liberalisation’ and economy into Australia’s domestic context. The analysis traces the devaluation of the knowledge and expertise of the Tariff Board because it did not support the GATT’s central project of ‘trade liberalisation’.
This is an interdisciplinary project drawing on methodological approaches developed in recent critical explorations of international trade law and histories of international economic regimes. The approaches drawn on include, discourse analysis and the concept of ‘discourse communities’ and the use of a focused case study. The project draws on a range of archival material, primarily held in the National Library Australia and the National Archives.
- Nicola Charwat and Jodie Boyd, 'The Transmission of International Trade Norms, Ideas and Expertise into National Statutory Institutions: The Case of GATT and the Australian Tariff Board', Griffith Law Review (published online 2019)
- Papers exploring aspects of the interdisciplinary collaboration – the process and findings – were presented at the Socio-Legal Studies Association Conference 2018 (27-9 March, Bristol, UK) and an interdisciplinary workshop "Investigating the Impact of Law Through Interdisciplinary Research" organised by the Department of Business Law (5-6 April 2018, Prato, Italy). The research paper is being finalised for submission to a peer reviewed journal.
Quick reads View
- 19 October 2020, Does Choice of Dispute Resolution Method Affect the Application of the Law?, Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network
- 6 January 2020, What makes a good arbitration law? The Australian Experience, Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network
- 17 June 2020, Of dry cleaning, arbitration and international commercial courts: when courts can learn from ADR, Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network
- 10 June 2020, Challenges and Opportunities for Asia-Pacific International Arbitration: Symposium Report, and News on a Forthcoming Publication, Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network
- 3 June 2020, International Commercial Arbitration, its Application of the Law, and the Flexibility of its Process, Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network
Law reform submissions View
- 29 March 2021, Ben Hayward et al, Submission to the Law Commission Call for Evidence on Smart Contracts
- 15 October 2020, Ben Hayward, Submission to the Department of Justice of Hong Kong Consultation on the Proposed Application of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
- 18 September 2020, Ben Hayward, Submission to the ACICA Rules Revision Consultation 2020