The transmission of international trade norms, ideas and expertise into national statutory institutions: the case of GATT and the Australian Tariff Board

Nicola Charwat, Jodie Boyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The impact of international trade law on domestic policy and regulatory actors and institutions is examined here via the concept of ‘discourse communities’. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) is understood both as a legal framework and as a socialising forum which fostered the ‘shared conceptual and normative sensibilities’ of actors functioning within it not only as states’ representatives, but also as trade experts; experts who performed roles within GATT as well as roles in domestic policy-making bodies and regulatory institutions. In examining the way in which these actors reviewed the work of Australia’s Tariff Board in light of GATT obligations, the analysis points to their role in the dissemination of GATT’s constitutive ideas; about trade, economic thinking and what constitutes expertise and authoritative knowledge about trade, economies and economics. Using the Tariff Board as a case study, the article traces the way in which Australian trade experts’ engagement with the ‘discourse community’ of GATT in its early years worked to devalue the knowledge and expertise of those who were perceived to be outside of this community, delegitimising in the process alternative understandings of trade and economy that did not support GATT’s central project of global trade liberalisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-302
Number of pages22
JournalGriffith Law Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • International trade law
  • GATT
  • international trade law history
  • discourse community
  • trade experts
  • trade liberalisation
  • Australian trade history

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