International trade law governs the treaties and legal institutions that comprise the multilateral trading system that exist in the world today. This includes the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its role in reducing barriers to international trade to foster trade, business and economic development. This regime refers to a broad range of economic and commercial activities that transcend states’ boundaries and include: trade in goods; trade in services; the transfer of technology; and foreign direct investment. The legal framework that governs this trade may be unilateral or national, bilateral and multilateral.
From a legal perspective, the laws of international trade are comprised of various public and private legal transactions. International transactions necessarily include international trade law aspects such as the carriage of goods and tariff regimes. Exporting and importing states shall strategically utilize international trade mechanisms to both expand their economic strength beyond their borders and protect their local markets. In 1947, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) helped to establish the trade law framework supervised today, in part, by the WTO. International trade is expansive in nature and develops a framework interlocking contracts, including letters of credit and contracts of sale, carriage and insurance.
The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) is the core legal body of trade administered by the United Nations. UNCITRAL plays a crucial role in furthering the trade law regime that exists today. This institution supervises dispute resolution, international contract practices, transport, insolvency, electronic commerce, international payments, secured transactions, procurement and sale of goods.