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Agriculture and the World Trade Organization: Does Membership Make a Difference?


  • Grant, Jason H.
  • Boys, Kathryn A.


Recent empirical studies have estimated the trade flow effect of membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its predecessor, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). One important, although largely untested, conclusion from this literature is that the GATT/WTO has worked well if we ignore trade in agriculture – one of the institution’s seemingly apparent failures. This article investigates this conclusion using a large panel of agricultural and non-agricultural trade flows, the latter of which serves as our benchmark. The results are impressive: the multilateral institution has delivered significant positive effects on members’ agricultural trade relative to trade between non-members. Further, despite their special and differential treatment, membership has provided important trade flow benefits for developing and least-developed country agricultural exports. These findings are robust across a large number of specifications and slices of the data. Although there are few sectors as politically sensitive, participation in the GATT/WTO appears to be a significant determinant of agricultural trade flows.

Suggested Citation

  • Grant, Jason H. & Boys, Kathryn A., 2010. "Agriculture and the World Trade Organization: Does Membership Make a Difference?," Working Papers 90886, Canadian Agricultural Trade Policy Research Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:catpwp:90886

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Diaz-Bonilla, Eugenio & Robinson, Sherman & Thomas, Marcelle & Yanoma, Yukitsugu, 2001. "WTO, agriculture, and developing countries," TMD discussion papers 81, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    WTO; membership; trade; Agricultural and Food Policy; International Development; International Relations/Trade; Political Economy;

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