Journal Article

Liberalization at the Speed of Light: International Trade in Electricity and Interconnected Networks

Manuel Sánchez Miranda

in Journal of International Economic Law

Volume 21, issue 1, pages 67-101
Published in print March 2018 | ISSN: 1369-3034
Published online April 2018 | e-ISSN: 1464-3758 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jiel/jgy010
Liberalization at the Speed of Light: International Trade in Electricity and Interconnected Networks

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Abstract

Rapid technological advances are making it technically and economically feasible to transport electricity over longer distances irrespective of the size of the entity who generates it and consumes it, activating international obligations that had been previously dormant. In parallel, global energy priorities have drastically changed as a result of the Paris Agreement and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, whilst approximately 15% of the world's population still lacks access to electricity. As governments try to adapt to the new sectoral landscape, on the one hand, and attempt to fulfil the desperate need to improve access to electricity in the poorest regions of the world, on the other, attention must be paid to the international rules that govern electricity trade as governments may infringe such rules when pursuing those goals. This article seeks to provide a general legal framework for the study of electricity measures, including those that relate to renewable energy, as they pertain to international trade. To this end, two issues are discussed. First, the three-pillared structure that governs global electricity trade, i.e. a combination of multilateral, regional and sectoral agreements, as well as the complex relationship between these separate legal regimes. Secondly, it analyses World Trade Organization (WTO) law as it applies to the trade in electrical energy and electricity services, and expounds how the three-pillared structure identified adapts to electricity trade. While primarily an electricity-related manuscript, this article covers issues of relevance not only to trade in electricity but to international trade law in general, particularly in connection with industries where international sectoral agreements coexist with multilateral and regional trade rules, discussing issues that range from conflict of norms to fragmentation and legal convergence.

Journal Article.  17401 words. 

Subjects: Financial Law ; Public International Law ; International Economic Law ; Economics

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