Skip to content


Mark Wu

  • China won’t back down in its plan to dominate tech

    December 17, 2018

    China's efforts to become a global powerhouse in the technology of the future are under attack. But don't expect it to beat a retreat....But any measures Xi might announce are expected to be a continuation of the gradual changes it has been introducing in recent years to open more of its economy to the world. "China is accelerating a series of economic reforms, many of which it would have enacted eventually anyway, and attempting to package it as a major concession to US demands," said Mark Wu, an international trade professor at Harvard Law School. Trump administration officials are still taking a wary approach to what China's offering.

  • Southeast Asia braces for more oil volatility ahead of OPEC meeting

    December 4, 2018

    Rattled by rapid oil price swings in recent months, Southeast Asian economies are on tenterhooks ahead of an OPEC meeting this week that is expected to result in a supply cut to boost prices..."What the [Trump-Xi] meeting yielded is simply a temporary cease-fire agreement," said Mark Wu, professor of law at Harvard University and an adviser to the World Trade Organization. "For it to hold will require that much more progress be made in the negotiations over the next 90 days." So far, he said, "the two sides have not been able to resolve the systemic challenges plaguing the relationship, such as [intellectual property] theft and technology transfer. Unless those thorny issues are resolved, there eventually will be renewed calls to step up the pressure once more."

  • Ahead of Trump-Xi summit, China seen as having more to lose from prolonged trade war

    November 29, 2018

    It’s said that there are no winners in a trade war. But as US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping prepare to meet in Buenos Aires this weekend, the consensus is that China will sit down in a weaker economic position...Washington has less to worry about than China’s policymakers, who are facing the tough choice between greater fiscal stimulus and economic reform priorities such as deleveraging, said Mark Wu, an expert on international trade and international economic law with Harvard University. “Because of the strong recent economic expansion, US economic policymakers have fewer short term systemic issues about which to worry,” he said. “And President Trump’s voters have been willing to tolerate the negative cost of a trade war given their support for his other domestic policies.”

  • Mark Wu promoted to professor of law

    Mark Wu appointed professor of law

    October 25, 2018

    Mark Wu, a leading expert on international trade and international economic law, was promoted to full professor, effective July 1. He was named the Henry L. Stimson Professor of Law.

  • As Trump rails, US allies take lead in changing trade rules

    October 22, 2018

    U.S. President Donald Trump wants to rip up the rulebook for global trade. China is by many accounts abusing it...“What has changed is not the substance but rather the style of U.S. engagement,” said Harvard Law school professor Mark Wu. “The U.S. has made clear that it will continue to block new appointments to the Appellate Body until its long-standing concerns are addressed satisfactorily. I expect the U.S. to stand firm on this pledge, even if it means paralyzing the Appellate Body,” he said.

  • NAFTA talks forced Canada to pick a side in U.S.-China trade war

    October 16, 2018

    When the Trudeau government agreed to a revised North American free trade deal, the Americans said Canada also agreed to something else: joining Donald Trump's trade war on China...."Although free trade agreements regularly require consultations on a variety of issues, they are typically on more narrow regulatory matters," said Mark Wu, an international trade professor at Harvard Law School who specializes in Chinese trade issues. "Article 32.10 of the USMCA represents a novel and unprecedented approach," he said. And reiterating the six-month notice language in this part of the text is "particularly extraordinary."

  • The Unlikely, Obvious Solution to the Trade War

    October 2, 2018

    The trade war really is on — counterproductive and unnecessary and yet likely to last...That said, the W.T.O. as currently structured cannot adequately deal with a state-driven economy like China’s, as Mark Wu, a law professor at Harvard, has argued. Yes, China has cut back on directly subsidizing exports, a clear violation of W.T.O. guidelines. But many Chinese companies still benefit indirectly from access to underpriced state-owned land and privileged relations with local authorities and banks, and those issues are not explicitly covered in the regulations.

  • Work with allies to update WTO rules instead of waging solo trade war, former US officials tell Donald Trump

    September 27, 2018

    ...Mark Wu, a Harvard Law School professor and former US trade official, said that despite previous US administrations’ complaints, some member countries have been “perfectly happy to let the rules stay as they have been, to the disadvantage or dismay of the US”. “Obviously this administration is taking a very different tack” to previous administrations, said Wu, who was the USTR director for intellectual property from 2003-04. He currently sits on the advisory board of a WTO programme that promotes the understanding of trade among academics and policymakers in developing countries.

  • Is Canada’s trade outreach to China driving a wedge into the NAFTA talks?

    September 27, 2018

    Donald Trump's trade representative said Tuesday that "a fair amount of distance" remains between the Canadian and U.S. sides in the NAFTA talks — but it was pretty obvious that it's China, not Canada, dominating Robert Lighthizer's thoughts lately...."Given the Trump administration's goal of closing transshipment loopholes, it shouldn't be altogether surprising that the U.S. is seeking for its free trade partners to apply a like-minded approach toward so-called non-market economies," said Mark Wu, a professor at Harvard Law School who studies the strategy of state-owned industries in China. "Without it, there's the danger that foreign producers benefiting from unfair trade practices could use a revised NAFTA as a back door to circumvent U.S. tariffs."

  • US Imposes New $200bn Tariffs on China (audio)

    September 25, 2018

    The US is imposing new tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese goods as it escalates its trade war with Beijing. We hear from Mark Wu, professor of international trade law at Harvard Law School.

  • US Imposes New $200bn Tariffs on China (audio)

    September 18, 2018

    The US is imposing new tariffs on $200bn worth of Chinese goods as it escalates its trade war with Beijing. We hear from Mark Wu, professor of international trade law at Harvard Law School.

  • On the Bookshelf: HLS Library Book Talks, Spring 2018 2

    On the Bookshelf: HLS Library Book Talks, Spring 2018

    August 9, 2018

    The Harvard Law School Library hosted a series of book talks by HLS authors, with topics including Authoritarianism in America, the Supreme Court of India, and Legal Reasoning and Political Conflict. As part of this ongoing series, faculty authors from various disciplines shared their research and discussed their recently published books with a panel of colleagues and the Harvard Law community.

  • Trump’s raise-the-stakes strategy raises anxiety of an open-ended trade war with China

    August 7, 2018

    Perhaps no part of President Trump’s campaign to overhaul U.S. trade policy enjoys broader support than his indictment of China. Yet if the president’s push to reshape the U.S.-China trade relationship reflects a bipartisan consensus, his method for doing so does not...China generally complies with global regulators’ edicts when it loses a dispute. But its economic model poses a unique challenge that global regulators are failing to meet, said Mark Wu, a former U.S. trade negotiator who teaches at Harvard Law School. The Trump administration sees that challenge as growing more acute as an increasingly prosperous China targets the innovative high-technology industries that the United States dominates. China joined the WTO in 2001 after more than two decades of moving from Maoist autarky toward an export-oriented, market-based economy. In its first years as a member of the global trading club, China developed in unanticipated ways, according to Wu.

  • When the World Opened the Gates of China

    July 31, 2018

    ...The moves against China are part of Mr. Trump’s wider effort to upend longstanding U.S. policy on trade and also the international institutions and agreements that govern trade. Whether the administration’s shift is a much-needed corrective or a disastrous reversal depends in large part on how one views the original decision to bring China into the international trade regime...Greater economic growth led to greater political control, said Mark Wu, a professor at Harvard Law School whose research focuses on China and the WTO. China’s leaders believed that they needed unchallenged authority to carry out economic reform in the face of opposition from entrenched interests. According to Mr. Wu, the point of freer markets, in their view, was to encourage competition and prevent the system from becoming sclerotic, not to bolster individual rights.

  • Can the US-China trade war be stopped? 11 experts weigh in.

    July 23, 2018

    ...Mark Wu, law professor at Harvard. Right now we’re still in the opening throes of a trade war. Both sides are testing each other’s resolve. The question is whether either side will blink, or whether they’ll continue to engage in some form of tit-for-tat escalation. So far, the scale of trade affected by the $34 billion in tariffs is not that large; both economies believe that they can withstand the short-term negative impact. Neither President Trump nor President Xi Jinping can afford to appear weak to their domestic constituency. Each has painted the other side’s actions as unreasonable. But ultimately, both leaders realize that they need each other’s cooperation on a wide range of other non-economic issues. Against this backdrop, each side is gauging the likelihood of the other side yielding further.

  • In the Trump era, can the concept of ‘free trade’ survive?

    July 20, 2018

    ...Some ask how to ensure that a positive economic effect is felt more broadly? "Even if people know that trade, in theory, leads to a more prosperous future, they worry that they may end up grasping the short end of the stick," Mark Wu, a professor of law at Harvard Law School, told Politico.

  • Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda on drug pricing could backfire around the world

    May 9, 2018

    President Donald Trump wants Americans to get lower prices for medicines — and the rest of the world may pay for it. His "America First" message on drugs at home, coupled with pro-pharmaceutical industry policies abroad, could lead to higher costs for patients around the world — without making drugs more affordable for those in the U.S. Trump on Friday plans to deliver his long-promised speech on how to lower drug costs, addressing an industry he has in the past accused of "getting away with murder." Global health officials worry he will also target practices that keep medicines affordable in other countries...“It’s certainly possible that pharmaceutical companies will pocket the profits from higher overseas pharmaceutical prices to the benefit of shareholders,” without lowering U.S prices, said Mark Wu, a trade expert at Harvard Law School. “On the other hand, it could provide the administration with some leverage to push pharmaceutical companies to lower their prices domestically in return for these overseas gains and benefits from the new tax plan.”

  • Is the global trade system broken?

    May 8, 2018

    ...Today's trading system may be bent, but it is not broken. Import tariffs are low. Quotas are relatively uncommon. In 2016, some $15.4trn of merchandise flowed between countries belonging to the World Trade Organization...Then there is China. After its entry into the WTO in 2001, its government cut tariffs and undertook domestic policy reform. But its economic model of state-infused capitalism, referred to by Harvard Law Professor Mark Wu as “China, Inc”, also evolved in ways that sat awkwardly alongside the world’s trade rules. The “Made in China 2025” industrial policy, its apparent tolerance of industrial espionage and intellectual-property theft from foreign companies, and its cheap loans from state-owned banks to Chinese manufacturers all rub up against the spirit, if not the letter, of the global trading system.

  • Harvard Law team wins All American Regional Round in WTO moot court competition 1

    Harvard Law team wins All American Regional Round in WTO moot court competition

    April 14, 2018

    A team of Harvard Law students won the North American regional competition at the European Law Students Association (ELSA) Moot Court Competition on WTO Law. The team will advance to the final round at the WTO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland later this spring.

  • How did China end up posing as the defender of global trade?

    April 10, 2018

    As President Donald Trump has gone on the offensive against China in an attempt to push it to abandon trade practices many companies and governments say are unfair, Beijing has sought to portray the US moves as an attack on the international trading system as a whole...Experts says it's a bizarre state of affairs, given China's own track record on trade..."China is seeking to cast itself as the defender of a rules-based system, but its own past behavior raises doubts about just how committed China is to following the spirit, if not letter, of the law," said Mark Wu, an international trade professor at Harvard Law School.

  • What’s at Stake in Tariff War: WTO’s Future

    March 28, 2018

    President Donald Trump’s unilateral imposition of new tariffs last week is a slap at the World Trade Organization, a frequent target of his attacks. Allies are urging Mr. Trump to fix the 164-country body, not marginalize it. The WTO’s future is particularly uncertain because the Trump administration’s approach simultaneously circumvents and relies on it...“WTO law is woefully inadequate to deal with some, but not necessarily all, of the problematic trade practices arising out of China,” said Harvard law professor Mark Wu, a trade expert. As a result, he said, the U.S. and its allies will still seek recourse on some issues through the WTO. But gaps in international law and insufficient remedies available mean Washington feels more pressure to take further steps, either with allies or on its own.