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The political economy of services trade liberalization: a case for international regulatory cooperation?

  • Bernard Hoekman
  • Aaditya Mattoo
  • André Sapir

Little progress has been made since the creation of the WTO on expanding and deepening the coverage of services liberalization commitments. This paper identifies and discusses five hypotheses that may explain the absence of dynamism: (i) technological changes allowing ever more services to be traded cross-border unaffected by policy; (ii) strong incentives to pursue liberalization on an autonomous basis (unilaterally); (iii) perceptions that bilateral or regional cooperation are a good substitute for the WTO; (iv) standard political-economy factors, such as adjustment costs and resistance by incumbents to erosion of rents; and (v) concerns that the WTO will affect the ability of regulators to enforce national norms. We argue that all of these explanations play a role, and that some of these factors significantly impede the scope for reciprocal exchanges of 'concessions' - the engine of WTO negotiations. Copyright © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 23 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3 (Autumn)
Pages: 367-391

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Handle: RePEc:oup:oxford:v:23:y:2007:i:3:p:367-391
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  1. Konan, Denise Eby & Maskus, Keith E., 2003. "Quantifying the impact of services liberalization in a developing country," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3193, The World Bank.
  2. Jens Matthias Arnold & Aaditya Mattoo & Gaia Narciso, 2008. "Services Inputs and Firm Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa: Evidence from Firm-Level Data," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 17(4), pages 578-599, August.
  3. Patrick Messerlin, 2005. "The Directive on Services: Rent Seekers Strike Back," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/8131, Sciences Po.
  4. Hoekman, Bernard, 2006. "Liberalizing trade in services : a survey," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4030, The World Bank.
  5. Hoekman, Bernard & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2006. "Services, Economic Development and the Doha Round: Exploiting the Comparative Advantage of the WTO," CEPR Discussion Papers 5628, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/8131 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Mattoo, Aaditya, 2005. "Services in a development round : three goals and three proposals," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3718, The World Bank.
  8. Rolf J. Langhammer, 2005. "The EU Offer of Service Trade Liberalization in the Doha Round: Evidence of a Not-Yet-Perfect Customs Union," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(2), pages 311-325, 06.
  9. James Markusen & Thomas Rutherford & David Tarr, 2005. "Trade and direct investment in producer services and the domestic market for expertise," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(3), pages 758-777, August.
  10. Barth, James R. & Marchetti, Juan A. & Nolle, Daniel E. & Sawangngoenyuang, Wanvimol, 2006. "Foreign banking: Do countries' WTO commitments match actual practices?," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2006-11, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
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