State-Owned Enterprises in New-Generation Free Trade Agreements: Carveouts Chiselled for China’s Legal, Economic and Political Backbones

Ms Francine Déliane Hug1

1National University of Singapore, Faculty of Law, Singapore, Singapore

Amidst thundering trade wars and withering rules-based liberal order, the world is plunging into pivotal times of uncertainties. For Asia holistically and China particularly, these tempestuous winds represent unparalleled opportunities to rearchitect multilateral trade rules. Clauses pertaining to state-owned enterprises (SOE) illustrate legal state-of-the-art innovations canvassed in New-Generation Free Trade Agreements (FTA) best embodied by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). As SOEs are arguably China’s steadiest but thorniest ecopolitical pillar, the Gordian knot failing to reconcile international trade law with China’s sui generis SOEs direly needs to be untied. This paper’s research objectives are to: Identify rationales behind China’s strategies; promote mutual understanding between China and its pro-deep integration partners; formulate unprecedented provisions on sensitive deadlocks; and design FTAs with highest common-denominators. Its central hypothesis asserts that where middle-grounds erode, carveouts in the form of exception, review and evolutionary clauses are the normatively most viable option to achieve New-Generation FTAs acceptable to all.


Francine is a PhD-Candidate at the National University of Singapore’s Law Faculty. Prior to academia, she worked at the Swiss Embassy in Beijing and gained further experiences in international organisations, NGOs and the private sector across continents. Holding another degree in Sinology and Economics, she is fluent in half-a-dozen languages.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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