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America is trying to change the way trade rows are settled

ONE of President Donald Trump’s more improbable achievements has been to make international trade negotiations into front-page news. Less visibly, his officials have turned the legal systems for settling trade disputes into hotly contested topics. Not only is dispute settlement one of the last obstacles between America and Canada reaching a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it is also central to Mr Trump’s assault on the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the guardian of the global rules-based system of trade.A trade deal is a bit like the rulebook of a game in which the players are of very different sizes and speak a host of different languages, and so may have different ideas of what constitutes fair play. A dispute-settlement system is the referee, deciding whether the rules have been broken. Its very existence may discourage cheating.
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