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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. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Trade Wars and Trade Talks," CEPR Discussion Papers 806, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 21-92, Tel Aviv.
  3. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  4. 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.
  5. Paul Krugman, 1991. "The move toward free trade zones," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 7-58.
  6. Baldwin, Richard, 1987. "Politically realistic objective functions and trade policy PROFs and tariffs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 287-290.
  7. 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.
  8. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W, 1990. "A Theory of Managed Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 779-95, September.
  9. Feenstra, R.C., 1995. "Estimating the Effects of Trade Policy," Papers 95-10, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  10. Bond, E. & Syropoulos, C., 1993. "Trading Blocs and the Sustainability of Inter-Regional Cooperation," Discussion Papers 93-17, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  11. Kyle Bagwell & Robert Staiger, 1994. "Multilateral Tariff Cooperation During the Formation of Customs Unions," International Trade 9410002, EconWPA.
  12. Robert W. Staiger, 1994. "International Rules and Institutions for Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 4962, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Steven Berry & James Levinsohn & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Voluntary Export Restraints on Automobiles: Evaluating a Strategic TradePolicy," NBER Working Papers 5235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Giovanni Maggi & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 1998. "The Value of Trade Agreements in the Presence of Political Pressures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 574-601, June.
  16. repec:att:wimass:9602 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. 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.
  18. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1996. "Reciprocal Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 5488, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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.
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