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3 - Trade and development

Leader: Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven)


The EU is perhaps the world’s most important global actor in both trade and investment, and development. These fields are both very distinct and highly interrelated. The EU, through its common commercial policy and trade agreements, promotes trade liberalisation and leverages its values through its economic clout. The EU member states, and, post-Lisbon Treaty, the EU itself, are also major actors in the area of bilateral and multilateral investment protection agreements. In development, the EU maintains a large number of programmes which seek to implement the sustainable development goals, which are also conditional on human rights. Moreover, the relationship between trade, investment and development is argued by the EU to be mutually reinforcing: trade and investment boost development, while development would increase the capacity to trade and the potential for investment. Adverse agendas, focused on protectionism, discrimination and development with no strings attached, are however reappearing on a global scale. The objectives of WP3 are to:

  • Map the global regimes and institutions in trade, investment and development, and understand how opposing forces and actors are hindering the implementation of the global and EU’s trade, investment and development agendas;
  • Investigate how the EU’s common commercial policy relates to the global free trade regime as administered by the World Trade Organization;
  • Investigate how the EU and its member states’ policies on investment protection in general, and regarding Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in particular, relate to developing countries and to development agendas;
  • Investigate how the EU’s development policy relates to the global development agenda, notably the Sustainable Development Goals as led by the United Nations.

Axel Marx - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven), WP3 Leader

Reports Work Package 3 - Trade and Development