The University of Macau (UM) Faculty of Law (FLL) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (UNCITRAL-RCAP) today (1 December) held their 10th anniversary joint conference titled ‘National and Regional Harmonisation of International Trade Law: A Decade in Retrospect and the Desiderata of the Future’, where landmark developments in the harmonisation of international trade law in the past decade and future needs were discussed.
Since 2014, UM FLL and UNCITRAL-RCAP have jointly held nine high-level international conferences and one international legal symposium. This year’s conference featured a keynote address by Zhao Hong, professor in the Law School of Peking University and former chairperson of the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization, and addresses by experts and scholars from Australia, Italy, Portugal, South Korea, Sweden, the US, mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macao on the harmonisation of international trade law.
The conference covered various contemporary topics about legal harmonisation, including data property and data contracts, global data governance and China, UNCITRAL agenda on alternative dispute resolution, court-ordered interim measures arrangements and their regional impacts on the promotion of arbitral seats, judicial support for commercial arbitration in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), determining credibility in online arbitration hearings and the importance in-person witness enquiry, consensual settlement of competition disputes in China and conditional arbitrability, Macao arbitration in the new era and its current status and reforms, UNCITRAL’s efforts in promoting micro, small, and medium enterprises and gender equality in access to business, UNCITRAL and the spontaneous harmonisation of legal standards, UNCITRAL expedited arbitration rules, investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) reforms and renewable energy disputes, ontological turn in judicial sales of ships, competing or complementary modes of New York Arbitration Convention and Hague Judgments Convention for cross-border disputes, the development of investment dispute resolution under the Belt and Road Initiative, the establishment of an investment dispute settlement regime in the GBA, United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) and smart contracts, autonomous contracts and the role of artificial intelligence in producing smart contracts, artificial intelligence and regulation, as well as international and regional unification and harmonisation of legislation on public-private partnerships.
In addition, on the basis of the experiences and adoption of harmonised legal standards at national and regional levels, this year’s conference reviewed and evaluated the evolution of legal harmonisation in the past decade and the future needs of UNCITRAL in various fields of trade law. A comprehensive review was also undertaken to address the key challenges in legal harmonisation in international trade and international initiatives. These efforts will pave the way for governments and UNCITRAL to develop appropriate measures to effectively overcome the obstacles encountered in the adoption and establishment of harmonised legal standards for governing international trade.
The conference was supported by the World Trade Center Macau Arbitration Center, Shanghai Arbitration Commission, and China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) Hong Kong Arbitration Center. Guests attending the opening ceremony included Athita Komindr, head of UNCITRAL-RCAP; Vong Sok Hei, secretary general of the World Trade Center Macau Arbitration Center; Fan Mingchao, executive vice president of Shanghai Arbitration Commission; Brad Wang, deputy secretary general of CIETAC Hong Kong Arbitration Center; Ng In Cheong, head of the International and Inter-Regional Law Department of the Legal Affairs Bureau, Macao SAR Government; Oriana Inácio Pun, secretary general of the Macao Lawyers Association and president of the Macao Lawyers Association Arbitration Centre; Rostam J Neuwirth, head of the Department of Global Legal Studies of UM’s Faculty of Law (FLL); and Muruga Perumal Ramaswamy, associate professor in FLL.