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Reciprocity, non-discrimination and preferential agreements in the multilateral trading system

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  • Bagwell, Kyle
  • Staiger, Robert W.

Abstract

and non-discrimination, the two principles that are the pillars of the multi- lateral trading system as embodied in GATT and its successor, the WTO. We show that GATT's principle of reciprocity serves to neutralize the world-price effects of a country's trade policy decisions, and hence can deliver efficient trade-policy outcomes for its member governments provided that the externa- lities associated with trade intervention travel through world prices. We then establish that externalities indeed travel in this way if and only if tariffs also conform to the principle of non-discrimination (MFN). In this way, the principles of reciprocity and non-discrimination can work together to deliver efficient outcomes for the multilateral trading system. We also consider within our framework the implications of preferential agreements for the multilateral trading system. The introduction of free trade agreements com- plicates the way in which externalities are transmitted across countries, and in this environment the principle of reciprocity can not longer deliver efficient multilateral outcomes for its member governments. We do find a limited place for customs unions in the multilateral trading system, provided that the member countries of the union have similar political preferences. As these conditions are quite stringent, we offer little support for the hypothesis that the principle of reciprocity can deliver an efficient multi- lateral trade agreement in the presence of preferential agreements. Instead, our results offer support for the view that preferential agreements pose a threat to the existing multilateral system.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 17 (2001)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 281-325

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Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:17:y:2001:i:2:p:281-325

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505544

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References

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  1. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W, 1990. "A Theory of Managed Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 779-95, September.
  2. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-50, September.
  3. Bond, Eric W. & Syropoulos, Constantinos, 1996. "The size of trading blocs Market power and world welfare effects," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-4), pages 411-437, May.
  4. Paul Krugman, 1991. "The move toward free trade zones," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 7-58.
  5. Maggi, G & Rodriguez-Clare, A, 1996. "The Value of Trade Agreements in the Presence of Political Pressures," Papers 180, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  6. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 1997. "Strategic export subsidies and reciprocal trade agreements: The natural monopoly case," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 491-510, December.
  7. Feenstra, Robert C., 1995. "Estimating the effects of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1553-1595 Elsevier.
  8. Staiger, Robert W., 1995. "International rules and institutions for trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 29, pages 1495-1551 Elsevier.
  9. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1993. "Multilateral Tariff Cooperation During the Formation of Free Trade Areas," Discussion Papers 1048, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1993. "Miltilateral Tariff Cooperation During the Formation of Customs Unions," Discussion Papers 1070, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. repec:att:wimass:9602 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1995. "Trade Wars and Trade Talks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 675-708, August.
  13. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou, 1995. "Product Differentiation and Oligopoly in International Markets: The Case of the U.S. Automobile Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(4), pages 891-951, July.
  14. Baldwin, Richard, 1987. "Politically realistic objective functions and trade policy PROFs and tariffs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 287-290.
  15. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  16. Bond, E. & Syropoulos, C., 1993. "Trading Blocs and the Sustainability of Inter-Regional Cooperation," Discussion Papers 93-17, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  17. Berry, S. & Linsohn, J. & Pakes, A., 1997. "Voluntary Export Restraints on Automobiles: Evaluating a Strategic Trade Policy," Working Papers 393, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  18. Gros, Daniel, 1987. "A note on the optimal tariff, retaliation and the welfare loss from tariff wars in a framework with intra-industry trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 357-367, November.
  19. Giovanni Maggi, 1999. "The Role of Multilateral Institutions in International Trade Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 190-214, March.
  20. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1996. "Reciprocal Trade Liberalization," Discussion Papers 1150, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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