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The Politics of World Trade



Commerce is one of the oldest forms of international relations and still is a major motive in the foreign policies of states. Trade is also one of the hottest debated topics in international relations theory, in particular as part of the discussion on the merits of globalisation. In the past decade the debate on trade politics has been a cause of (violent) street protests around the world and hardly less heated debates in conference rooms, the newspapers and the internet. This course aims to provide students with a solid grasp of the background and the main problems and issues related to international trade. The focus will be on the political dimension, but the seminar will cover some basic economics, law and the history of ideas, because an interdisciplinary approach is indispensable for a good understanding of the topic. The overall goal of the seminar is to provide students with sufficient knowledge to understand the basics of trade and the World Trade Organisation, which will allow them to contextualise the place of trade within the wider debate on globalisation.

Method of instruction

The seminar combines lectures, group discussion and individual assignments. Active participation of the students is expected.

Study material

The central text for the seminar is:

Bernard M. Hoekman and Michel M. Kostecki (2009), The Political Economy of the World Trading System, third edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

It is essential to acquire this third edition. Trade politics is a dynamic area which requires up-to-date information.

This will be complemented by a small selection of articles, chapters and material from websites. The total reading load will be around 600 pages, literature for individual assignments excluded.


The final grade will be based on separate grades for class participation, two short written assignments and a final case study and presentation.

Thursday 3 November till 22 December, 09.00-11.00 hrs. in building Stichthage, 13th floor, room Archipel, except 10 November and 1 December than building Lange Houtstraat 5-7, room 404 and 15 December, than in building Stichthage, 13th floor, room Benoordenhout