BYU Law Review


Timothy Meyer


Over the last decade, international economic conflict has increased dramatically. To name only a few examples, the European Union banned the import of products from deforested land and is poised to impose duties on carbon-intensive imports; the United States banned Chinese imports made with forced labor; and countries the world over threatened to impose digital services taxes on U.S. corporations, leading to a new multilateral agreement on apportioning income tax revenue among countries.

This Article argues that these conflicts represent a shift in norms governing the authority to tax and regulate international commerce. Different fields within international economic law describe the limits of state authority to tax and regulate international commerce in diverse ways. But I argue that a trans-substantive set of principles underlies the varied doctrines in international trade, international tax, and international antitrust. Throughout the twentieth century, international law’s jurisdictional limitations rested on the notion that production could be taxed and regulated primarily, and often only, by the producing country (what this Article terms “Production Jurisdiction”). As a result, international law often prohibited consuming nations from imposing taxes or regulations on imported goods and services if the taxes or regulations depended on the circumstances of foreign production. By contrast, nations today increasingly claim jurisdiction to tax and regulate foreign production based on their interest in controlling the kinds of activity that consumption within their borders supports (what this Article terms “Consumption Jurisdiction”).

This Article makes three contributions. First, I describe the ongoing shift from Production Jurisdiction to Consumption Jurisdiction in international antitrust law, international tax, and international trade. Second, I argue that the shift from Production to Consumption Jurisdiction does not mean the end of globalization or the rise of protectionism. Rather, it reflects a change in states’ views on the role that national policy should play in creating a nation’s comparative advantage in the global economy. Third, I discuss the implications of the shift from Production to Consumption Jurisdiction.


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