Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 May 2019
This article illustrates the power of discourse in free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation, elucidating the concept from the perspective of a country’s abilities of rule control, rule assimilation and rule contestation. To enhance rule control, the G2 (the US and EU) have chosen their FTA partners, designed the FTA rules, and offered offensive-defensive exchange strategically. They have approached weak or trade-dependent parties first in FTA negotiation, innovated new rules to accelerate FTA negotiation, skillfully constructed intentional ambiguity and exemptions to remove rule discrepancies and made offensive-defensive exchange with their negotiating parties. Some of these strategies have been copied by China although in a different way. Further, a template approach for negotiating an FTA and exporting domestic laws and normative values to others contributes to the G2’s rule assimilation. A de facto FTA template has also been established by China recently, but its legal culture and political stance have led it to sign incomplete contracts and tolerate rule differences with its negotiating parties instead of transposition of domestic law. In facing the rival rules adopted by their competitors, the G2 have incorporated counteractive rules in their FTAs with their competitors’ close trading nations. China has also contested rules treating China as a non-market economy in its FTAs, but its stance toward state-owned enterprises (SOE) disciplines and rules forbidding forced technology transfer is milder due to its lack of experience in dealing with unfavourable rules.
The article is funded by the National Social Science Fund of China (Grant no. 18FFX062) and Characteristic Innovative Project of Guangdong Provincial Department of Education (Grant no. 2017WTSCX030). Much gratitude is extended to the reviewers and editors of Leiden Journal of International Law.
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79 See generally the TPP, Ch. 12.
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