logo irtg
 Version française  |  Search
|  Imprint  |  Contact   |

Dr. Sophie Schram

Dr. Sophie Schram
The Multilevel Politics of Trade: Configurations and Dynamics in Canada and the European Union
(Start-up Project)

As trade policy evolves from a focus on tariff issues to non-tariff barriers, sub-federal actors become increasingly relevant in international trade policy-making. While most federal systems furnish the central government with the constitutional mandate to negotiate external treaties, many non-tariff trade issues fall under sub-federaljurisdiction. Hence, trade agreements deeply penetrate economic systems. In doing so, they might disrupt established economic practices. In my doctoral research, I investigated how the Canadian province Quebec engaged with the opportunities and drawbacks of international trade for their provincial development projects. My postdoc project builds on the results of my doctoral research and adopts a comparative approach which allows me to pursue two research avenues that were not developed in the PhD

First, I want to investigate the multilevel politics of geographical indications in Quebec and in France, as well as the dynamics related to the respective Canadian and European intellectual property practices. Geographical indications refer to product certifications protected by law which certify that a product is produced in a specific place and conforms to specific pre-established quality parameters. While the European and Canadian systems are radically different, Quebec has started, since the 1990s, to develop a system of geographical indication. In doing so, it was influenced by the well-established French system. During the CETA negotiation, geographical indications were among the key advancements made by the European Union in terms of transferring their practices to North America; in fact, CETA includes a list of protected geographical indications. This raises three sets of questions. First, what were the internal Canadian dynamics related to accepting a European-style system of geographical indications: were the provinces involved in formulating the Canadian negotiation position, and if so, what were their preferences? Were there differences among the Canadian provinces? Second, what were the dynamics between Canada and the European Union, and which role did the relation between France and Quebec play in allowing the European-style system to travel to Canada? Third, what are the implications of this system developed in Quebec for the internal Canadian market? Will Quebec's indications be recognized in the other provinces, and what role will CETA play in this process? In order to answer these questions, I will draw upon interviews I conducted with Quebec and French authorities. I will also draw from a network established during my research stay in Quebec with the Quebec authority for the protection of geographical indications.

Second, I want to exarnine the role of municipalities in international trade policy making in Canada and the European Union through the lens of public procurement contracts and foreign direct investment provisions. Overall, public procurement contracts represent, according to the World Trade Organization, 10-15 percent of the gross domestic product of economies on average, and foreign direct investment significantly contributes to enhancing trade in services. Hence, increasing foreign competition on these markets significantly contributes to advancing the global trade agenda. While central governments and to a large extent sub-federal governments in Canada and the European Union are increasingly bound by international trade provisions promoting transparency and non-discrimination in awarding public contracts, municipalities in Canada have become vocal actors in opposing this process. According to them, provisions included in international trade agreements disrupt the logic of community inherent in municipal activities. In fact, they argued that international trade would lower the quality of essential services offered to citizens, such as water and waste management or public transportation. Contrary to Canadian municipalities, European ones did not take an active stance during the CETA negotiation process. This raises two sets of questions. First, when and why did municipalities become active in international trade negotiations in Canada and the European Union? Are there differences across time and space? Second, how do they engage in the multilevel dynarnics of trade policy, or, in other words, should we consider them as non-governmental actors or as governmental actors in their own right?
Logo Universität Trier Logo Université Montréal Logo Universität des Saarlandes