International trade law, negotiations and disputes have typically been the bailiwick of specialized practices. Most business law firms providing transactional, litigation or general corporate and commercial services have not felt a need to invest the effort or resources to field a top-tier international trade practice. Trade law and policy were just part of the fabric of globalization that made it possible for multinational clients to outsource operations to countries with lower-cost bases, plan and execute global M&A transactions and drive burgeoning cross-border capital markets.
The business community and governments basked in a broad consensus that trade is good, that rising tides eventually raise all boats and that most trade and investment disputes could be resolved by resorting to treaty-based dispute settlement under free-trade agreements, the World Trade Organization or bilateral investment treaties.
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