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International Trade Law: Getting Started


International trade law is a vast topic with multiple layers. In general, it encompasses the rules and customs that apply to commerce across international borders (import/export), including various global, regional, and bilateral agreements. However, international trade law also touches on other areas of law, such as intellectual property (IP), foreign investment, and dispute settlement. The World Trade Organization (WTO) serves as a global depository and referee of sorts in the arena of international trade. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) are also important players in the international trade regime.

The purpose of this guide is to present the many resources available for researching this broad area, including commercial databases available through the LUC Libraries' system. Keep in mind that, because of its broad topical coverage, business, economics, IP, and foreign investment resources may also be relevant when researching international trade law. For more guidance on researching the global investment regime, for example, see the LUC Law Library's "International Commercial and Investment Arbitration Research" guide. 

Introductory Materials (Electronic Format)

The following are just some of the many robust library research guides related to the topic of international trade law. 

Introductory Texts

The following books serve as introductions to international trade law. These are available to current Loyola Law students and faculty through the Law Library's subscription to West Academic Study Aids. A current Loyola Law ID and password are required for off-campus access.


For assistance citing to foreign and international materials in U.S. legal publications and documents, see the most recent edition of The Bluebook (21st). T2 (Foreign Jurisdictions) is available online (no access code required).  For assistance interpreting foreign and international legal citations, see the following:

Online Translators

English translations of foreign and international legal materials are often difficult to locate and can be unreliable.  Only in rare instances are authoritative English translations available.  If authoritative versions are not available, look for "official" translations that are created by, or for, a government organization.  Further, look for synoptic translations, which allow for side-by-side comparisons of the vernacular with the English translation.  Some types of legal materials are translated into English more often than others, such as those pertaining to commercial law. 

Several online translators are available on the WWW, but these should be used with caution since Web translators do not generally include specialized legal or commercial vocabulary.  Online translators, however, may be of some help in getting the general sense of a document or passage.  Examples of WWW translators are: