International trade law has lived the four decades since its curious birth as a legal stepchild, largely unembraced by its sibling fields of public international law, domestic administrative law, and private commercial law. Ironically, trade law owes much of its intellectual isolation to its topical richness. Exclusively inhabiting no single domain, it straddles the borders of public and private law, international and domestic law, and law and economics. International trade law cuts across these domains because the international trade system operates at not one, but three discrete legal levels: the level of the private trade transaction, the level of national governmental regulation, and the level of international intergovernmental regulation. Each of these levels is governed by different bodies of legal doctrine and is shaped by the interaction of different institutional players.3 Thus, as in a game of three-dimensional chess, constant and complex interplay transpires within and among each of these three legal levels.
Harold H. Koh,
The Legal Markets of International Trade: A Perspective on the Proposed United States- Canada Free Trade Agreement,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol12/iss2/2