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WTO Dispute Settlement and the Missing Developing Country Cases: Engaging the Private Sector


  • Chad P. Bown
  • Bernard M. Hoekman


The poorest WTO member countries almost universally fail to engage as either complainants or interested third parties in formal dispute settlement activity related to their market access interests. This paper focuses on costs of the WTO's extended litigation process as an explanation for the potential but 'missing' developing country engagement. We provide a positive examination of the current system, and we catalogue and analyze a set of proposals encouraging the private sector to provide DSU-specific legal assistance to poor countries. We investigate the role of legal service centres, non-governmental organizations, development organizations, international trade litigators, economists, consumer organizations, and law schools to provide poor countries with the services needed at critical stages of the WTO's extended litigation process. In the absence of systemic rules reform, the public-private partnership model imposes a substantial cooperation burden on such groups as they organize export interests, estimate the size of improved market access payoffs, prioritize across potential cases, engage domestic governments, prepare legal briefs, assist in evidentiary discovery, and pursue the public relations effort required to induce foreign political compliance. Copyright 2005, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Chad P. Bown & Bernard M. Hoekman, 2005. "WTO Dispute Settlement and the Missing Developing Country Cases: Engaging the Private Sector," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(4), pages 861-890, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:8:y:2005:i:4:p:861-890

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    Cited by:

    1. Kokko, Ari & Gustavsson Tingvall, Patrik & Videnord, Josefin, 2017. "Which Antidumping Cases Reach the WTO?," Ratio Working Papers 286, The Ratio Institute.
    2. Richard Chisik & Chuyi Fang, 2017. "Limited Cross-retaliation and Lengthy Delays in International Dispute Settlement," Working Papers 066, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.
    3. Götz, Christian & Heckelei, Thomas & Rudloff, Bettina, 2010. "What makes countries initiate WTO disputes on food-related issues?," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 154-162, April.
    4. Lencucha, Raphael & Drope, Jeffrey & Labonte, Ronald, 2016. "Rhetoric and the law, or the law of rhetoric: How countries oppose novel tobacco control measures at the World Trade Organization," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 100-107.
    5. Jonathan B. Slapin and Julia Gray, University of Pittsburgh, 2009. "Why Some Regional Trade Agreements Work: Private Rents, Exit Options, and Legalization," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp289, IIIS.
    6. Bown, Chad P. & Hoekman, Bernard, 2007. "Developing Countries and Enforcement of Trade Agreements: Why Dispute Settlement Is Not Enough," CEPR Discussion Papers 6459, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Richard Chisik & Harun Onder, 2017. "Does Limited Punishment Limit The Scope For Cross Retaliation?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(3), pages 1213-1230, July.
    8. Hoekman, Bernard & Sekkat, Khalid, 2010. "Arab Economic Integration: Missing links," CEPR Discussion Papers 7807, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. M. Taslim, 2017. "Dispute Settlement in the WTO and the Least Developed Countries: The Case of India’s Anti-Dumping Duties on Lead Acid Battery Import from Bangladesh," Working Papers id:12354, eSocialSciences.
    10. Johannesson, Louise, 2016. "Supporting Developing Countries in WTO Dispute Settlement," Working Paper Series 1120, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    11. Kara M. Reynolds & Chad P. Bown, 2014. "Trade Flows and Trade Disputes," Working Papers 2014-05, American University, Department of Economics.
    12. Fouad Pervez, 2015. "Waiting for election season," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 265-303, June.
    13. Bouët, Antoine & Metivier, Jeanne, 2017. "Is the WTO dispute settlement procedure fair to developing countries?," IFPRI discussion papers 1652, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    14. Renwick, Alan & Islam, Md. Mofakkarul & Thomson, Steven, 2012. "Power in Global Agriculture: Economics, Politics, and Natural Resources," International Journal of Agricultural Management, Institute of Agricultural Management;International Farm Management Association, vol. 2(1), October.

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