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International Trade and Domestic Regulation

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  • Robert W. Staiger
  • Alan O. Sykes

Abstract

Existing formal models of the relationship between trade policy and regulatory policy suggest the potential for a regulatory race to the bottom. WTO rules and disputes, however, center on complaints about excessively stringent regulations. This paper bridges the gap between the existing formal literature and the actual pattern of rules and disputes. Employing the terms-of-trade framework for the modeling of trade agreements, we show how "large" nations may have an incentive to impose discriminatory product standards against imported goods once border instruments are constrained, and how inefficiently stringent standards may emerge under certain circumstances even if regulatory discrimination is prohibited. We then assess the WTO legal framework in light of our results, arguing that it does a reasonably thorough job of policing regulatory discrimination, but that it does relatively little to address excessive nondiscriminatory regulations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15541.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Publication status: published as International Trade, National Treatment and Domestic Regulation (with Alan Sykes), Journal of Legal Studies, January 2011
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15541

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  1. Costinot, Arnaud, 2008. "A Comparative Institutional Analysis of Agreements on Product Standards," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt09f6660d, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  2. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  8. Christian Broda & Nuno Limao & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Optimal Tariffs and Market Power: The Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2032-65, December.
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  10. Donald H. Regan, 2006. "What Are Trade Agreements For? -- Two Conflicting Stories Told by Economists, With a Lesson for Lawyers," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 951-988, December.
  11. Sumeet Gulati & Devesh Roy, 2008. "National Treatment and the optimal regulation of environmental externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1445-1471, November.
  12. Markusen, James R., 1975. "International externalities and optimal tax structures," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 15-29, February.
  13. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2003. "International agreements on product standards: an incomplete-contracting theory," Working Papers 229, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  14. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1999. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty and International Economic Institutions," NBER Working Papers 7293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Kyle Bagwell, 2009. "Self-Enforcing Trade Agreements and Private Information," NBER Working Papers 14812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Josh Ederington, 2001. "International Coordination of Trade and Domestic Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1580-1593, December.
  17. Rodney D. Ludema & Taizo Takeno, 2007. "Tariffs and the adoption of clean technology under asymmetric information," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1100-1117, November.
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