The crisis of the multilateral trade system: gradual disintegration or natural evolution?

The crisis of the multilateral trade system: gradual disintegration or natural evolution?



Principal Investigator
dr hab. Łukasz Gruszczyński
Overall budget
230 326 PLN
Project duration
16.07.2019 - 15.07.2022
Funded by
National Centre for Science

Aim of the project

The objective of this project is to use the case of the multilateral trading system – as embodied by the WTO – to illuminate the discussion on the crisis of multilateralism, its character, potential consequences, and the possible ways in which it may be dealt with. In this context, the project intends to address the following general research questions: (a) what is the nature of the current crisis of the multilateral trade system (i.e. the WTO)? How serious is it in terms of the various functions that are performed by the WTO? (b) What are the reasons behind the crisis? Is it a reflection of the shift in American trade policy, some deeper geopolitical reconfiguration that is taking place at the international level, or rather dysfunctionalities that exist within the system, or some combination of all three? (c) How can the crisis can be addressed? How does one deal with the deeper process of the progressive regionalization of international trade relations within the multilateral system?

Project impact

It is vital to understand the nature of the changes that are currently taking place as they will have a direct impact on the shape of the governance structures in the future. The significance of the project is not, however, limited to this theoretical dimension, but also extends to the practical operation of the system. International trade constitutes a foundational pillar of the contemporary globalized world. Trade flows, global value chains, and investment decisions are greatly determined by the legal architecture of the system. Consequently, it is not possible to understand certain global economic processes without first enquiring into the legal framework that creates the system (and which is currently evolving). Last but not least, the project relates to an area which is currently a subject of significant changes. Due to the recent and on-going character of these developments, the field remains under-investigated, with many lacunae to be filled in, thus creating very interesting intellectual challenges and opportunities for scholars.


Prof. Łukasz Gruszczyński

KU Professor at the Department of International Law and European Union Law. His research interests include international economic law, international public health law, and the relationship between law and technology. He received his Ph.D. from the European University Institute in Florence (2008) and his habilitation degree from the Institute of Legal Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences (2016). In the past, he has taken part in a number of research internship programs abroad, including at the University of Cambridge (as a Winiarski Fellow), the University of Michigan, the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, and the National University of Public Service (both institutions based in Budapest). Winner of six competitions organized by the National Science Centre.

He is currently pursuing two grants dealing with the transformation of international trade relations within the framework of the OPUS program. He also works with the Institute of Legal Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. His academic achievements include two monographs published by Oxford University Press and many publications featured in top-ranking international scientific journals. Professor Gruszczyński is also the managing editor of the English-language Polish Yearbook of International Law.