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Enforcement, private political pressure and the GATT/WTO escape clause

Author

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  • Bagwell,K.
  • Staiger,R.W.

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Social Systems Research Institute)

Abstract

We consider the design and implementation of international trade agreements when: (i) negotiations are undertaken and commitments made in the presence of uncertainty about future political pressures; (ii) governments possess private information about political pressures at the time that the agreement is actually implemented; and (iii) negotiated commitments can be implemented only if they are self-enforcing. We thus consider the design of self-enforcing trade agreements among governments that acquire private information over time. In this context, we provide equilibrium interpretations of GATT/WTO negotiations regarding upper bounds on applied tariffs and GATT/WTO escape clauses. We find that governments achieve greater welfare when they negotiate the optimal upper bound on tariffs rather than precise tariff levels; furthermore, when governments negotiate the optimal upper bound on tariffs, the observed applied tariffs often fall strictly below the bound. Our analysis also provides a novel interpretation of a feature of the WTO Safeguard Agreement, under which escape clause actions cannot be re-imposed in the same industry for a time period equal to the duration of the most recent escape clause action. We find that a dynamic usage constraint of this kind can raise the expected welfare of negotiating governments.
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Suggested Citation

  • Bagwell,K. & Staiger,R.W., 2004. "Enforcement, private political pressure and the GATT/WTO escape clause," Working papers 23, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  • Handle: RePEc:att:wimass:200423
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    File URL: http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/econ/archive/wp2004-23.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    2. Susan Athey & Kyle Bagwell & Chris Sanchirico, 2004. "Collusion and Price Rigidity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 317-349.
    3. Athey, Susan & Bagwell, Kyle, 2001. "Optimal Collusion with Private Information," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(3), pages 428-465, Autumn.
    4. Giovanni Maggi & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 1998. "The Value of Trade Agreements in the Presence of Political Pressures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 574-601, June.
    5. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 2001. "Reciprocity, non-discrimination and preferential agreements in the multilateral trading system," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 281-325, June.
    6. Bagwell Kyle & Staiger Robert W., 2003. "Protection and the Business Cycle," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-45, September.
    7. Robert C. Feenstra & Tracy R. Lewis, 1991. "Negotiated Trade Restrictions with Private Political Pressure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1287-1307.
    8. Baldwin, Richard, 1987. "Politically realistic objective functions and trade policy PROFs and tariffs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 287-290.
    9. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W, 1990. "A Theory of Managed Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 779-795, September.
    10. R. W. Staiger & G. Tabellini, 1999. "Do Gatt Rules Help Governments Make Domestic Commitments?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(2), pages 109-144, July.
    11. Rosendorff, B. Peter & Milner, Helen V., 2001. "The Optimal Design of International Trade Institutions: Uncertainty and Escape," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 55(04), pages 829-857, September.
    12. Staiger, Robert W & Tabellini, Guido, 1987. "Discretionary Trade Policy and Excessive Protection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 823-837, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chad P. Bown, 2005. "Trade Remedies and World Trade Organization Dispute Settlement: Why Are So Few Challenged?," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 515-555, June.
    2. Giovanni Maggi & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2007. "A Political-Economy Theory of Trade Agreements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1374-1406, September.
    3. 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.
    4. Henrik Horn & Giovanni Maggi & Robert W. Staiger, 2010. "Trade Agreements as Endogenously Incomplete Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 394-419, March.
    5. Martin, Alberto & Vergote, Wouter, 2008. "On the role of retaliation in trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 61-77, September.
    6. Chisik, Richard, 2012. "Trade disputes, quality choice, and economic integration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 47-61.

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    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade

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