Sadeq Z. Bigdeli on “Trade War and Peace: View from the Middle East”

Room 2027, Osgoode Hall Law School, Ignat Kaneff Building

Trade War and Peace: View from the Middle East

With the US-China trade war escalating by the day, the seismic impact of this geo-economic rivalry on the future of the world trading system is hotly debated among academic, business and policy circles. Old assumptions about the relationship between trade, war and peace are being revisited. The question is how to rethink the enlightenment and liberal ideas from Montesquieu to Cordell Hull about the causal impact of trade openness on peace. It is argued that along with other causal factors, certain “modes” of trading relations might lead to entrenchment of peace and stability while others might exacerbate security concerns or even lead to war. The Middle East provides a useful context for testing hypotheses in the trade and pace debate. Here are the key questions addressed in this talk:

–        What are the impacts of trade alliances and rivalries on peace and security between and among trading partners in the Middle East?
–        Will the existing economic and legal structure of trade (including existing and emerging Regional Trade Agreements or “RTAs”) intensify or soften conflicts?
–        What is the role of regional and international “intermediaries” in the “spaghetti bowls” of the Western and Central Asia?
–        How may the US-China trade war impact the future of the region?
–        What are the 21st century tools available in the US economic artillery and what lessons can be learned here from the ongoing experience of broad and crippling sanctions currently imposed by the United States against Iran?

Professor Sadeq Bigdeli has been a member of the Law Faculty at SBU (National) University of Iran since 2017. Before that, he was a senior lecturer in law at the University of Waikato in New Zealand where he taught international trade law, international law, administrative law, and jurisprudence. Last summer, Professor Bigdeli was a visiting research Fellow at Osgoode Hall Law School’s Jack and Mae Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security.

While a law professor in New Zealand in 2014 and at the peak of negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Deal, Dr. Bigdeli was invited by the Government of Iran (Ministry of Industry, Mining and Trade) to help manage the process of the country’s reintegration into the world economy. He was assigned to guide Iran’s WTO accession file, trade agreements as well as bilateral economic dialogue with the EU, Switzerland and a number of other countries. In his capacity as Chief Trade Negotiator appointed by the Minister for Industry, Mines and Trade, Dr. Bigdeli succeeded in garnering the diplomatic support of the majority of key WTO member States in the form of a collective statement at the General Council in favor of reactivating Iran’s accession process. Together with the WTO Secretariat, he designed a roadmap for the resumption of Iran’s accession process for the first time. He also designed a new strategy for Iran’s preferential trade agreements and led a few rounds of negotiations for a number of trade agreements including a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Community.

Dr. Bigdeli resigned as soon as President Trump won the 2016 elections and took up a position at the SBU (National) University of Iran. He then led a nationwide research project to formulate Iran’s first national trade policy document with a focus on industrial policy and environmental sustainability.

Dr. Bigdeli holds an MA and a PhD in law from the University of Bern, and an LLM (’09) from Harvard Law School. He has co-edited two volumes with Cambridge University Press (2009) and Edward Elgar (2017) and published numerous articles and book chapters in the last decade.

He was a postdoctoral research Fellow at Georgetown Law School in 2011 and a lecturer at Harvard Institute for Global Law & Policy in Doha in 2014.


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