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Unilateralism in a Multilateral World

  • Wilfred J. Ethier

    (University of Pennsylvania)

This paper addresses the interplay between unilateralism and multilateralism. I describe their stylised facts and present a simple, multi-country model with high initial tariffs and features that have always been of paramount concern to policy makers, and allow governments to negotiate multilateral agreements. I then find a role for a system with features remarkably similar to contemporary unilateralism. The relationships between multilateralism and unilateralism are subtle: Unilateralism has the properties it has because the world is multilateral (the "insurance" "triangle"); useful unilateralism requires a "multilateral" "component" resulting from a "compatibility problem" between those who negotiate multilaterally and those who establish unilateralism. Copyright 2002 Royal Economic Society

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 112 (2002)
Issue (Month): 479 (April)
Pages: 266-292

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:112:y:2002:i:479:p:266-292
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  1. Hillman, Arye L, 1982. "Declining Industries and Political-Support Protectionist Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1180-87, December.
  2. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1999. "Multilateral Trade Negotiations, Bilateral Opportunism and the Rules of GATT," NBER Working Papers 7071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Bruce A. Blonigen & Thomas J. Prusa, 2001. "Antidumping," NBER Working Papers 8398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bagwell,K. & Staiger,R.W., 1998. "An economic theory of GATT," Working papers 15, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  6. Hillman, Arye L, 1990. " Protectionist Policies as the Regulation of International Industry," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 67(2), pages 101-10, November.
  7. Richard Harris, 1984. "Why Voluntary Export Restraints are 'Voluntary'," Working Papers 559, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  8. Dixit, Avinash, 1987. "Trade and insurance with moral hazard," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 201-220, November.
  9. Krishna, Kala, 1989. "Trade restrictions as facilitating practices," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 251-270, May.
  10. K.C. Fung & Robert W. Staiger, 1994. "Trade Liberalization and Trade Adjustment Assistance," NBER Working Papers 4847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Dixit, Avinash K, 1989. "Trade and Insurance with Adverse Selection," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 235-47, April.
  12. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1989. "A Theory of Managed Trade," Discussion Papers 801, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. Ethier, Wilfred J & Horn, Henrik, 1996. "Results-Oriented Trade Policy," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(1), pages 17-39, February.
  14. Wilfred J. Ethier, 1998. "Regionalism in a Multilateral World," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1214-1245, December.
  15. Baldwin, Robert E & Steagall, Jeffrey W., 1994. "An Analysis of US International Trade Commission Decisions in Antidumping, Countervailing Duty and Safeguard Cases," CEPR Discussion Papers 990, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  16. Jonathan Eaton & Gene M. Grossman, 1981. "Tariffs as Insurance: Optimal Commercial Policy When Domestic Markets Are Incomplete," NBER Working Papers 0797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Ethier, Wilfred J., 2001. "Theoretical problems in negotiating trade liberalization," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 209-232, June.
  18. Staiger, Robert W & Tabellini, Guido, 1987. "Discretionary Trade Policy and Excessive Protection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 823-37, December.
  19. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1998. "The New Regionalism," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(449), pages 1149-61, July.
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