Interpreters of International Economic Law: Corporations and Bureaucrats in Contest over Chile’s Food Warning Label

International economic law imposes limits on policy spaces. But scholars rarely study empirically the interpretive acts that determine the accepted meaning of investment or trade law as applied to a specific regulation long before a formal dispute. To fill this gap, we focus on interpretive contests over the meaning of WTO law between corporations and bureaucrats and their implications for states’ policy space. Based on a case study of Chile’s landmark 2015 nutrition labeling regulation and drawing on documents from freedom-of-information requests as well as interviews, we make two arguments. First, superior resources and a favorable global institutional environment enable transnational corporations to directly assert self-interested interpretations of international law to social regulators worldwide. Second, national bureaucrats can only refute these business-friendly interpretations and claim policy space by drawing on relevant expertise, in-house or through inter-agency cooperation.