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What's Left for the WTO?

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  • Chad P. Bown

Abstract

Suppose that when addressing the question of “what’s left for the WTO?,” negotiators relied not on the agenda established in 2001 but instead on the terms-of-trade theory of trade agreements to identify tariff negotiating priorities. This paper uses the lens of the terms-of-trade theory to investigate three specific areas in which it is frequently alleged that currently applied tariffs are “too high,” the implication being that there are still tariff reductions out there for an agreement like the WTO to facilitate. These three areas include applied tariffs for countries that are not members of the WTO, applied tariffs for WTO members that are unbound, and applied tariffs for WTO members set in the presence of large amounts of tariff binding overhang. As it turns out, these three areas are almost exclusively found to be the trade policies that developing countries themselves impose. I build upon recent developments in the empirical literature to present tentative evidence - some direct, some indirect - that sheds light on each of these three areas. I then draw insights from these results to highlight open and additional policy questions for additional research.

Suggested Citation

  • Chad P. Bown, 2016. "What's Left for the WTO?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5703, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5703
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp5703.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chad P. Bown & Meredith A. Crowley, 2013. "Self-Enforcing Trade Agreements: Evidence from Time-Varying Trade Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(2), pages 1071-1090, April.
    2. Hylke Vandenbussche & Maurizio Zanardi, 2008. "What explains the proliferation of antidumping laws?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 93-138, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
    5. Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga & Peri Silva, 2018. "Cooperation in WTO’s Tariff Waters?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1302-1338.
    6. Tang, Man-Keung & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2009. "The value of making commitments externally: Evidence from WTO accessions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 216-229, July.
    7. Handley, Kyle, 2014. "Exporting under trade policy uncertainty: Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 50-66.
    8. Blanchard, Emily J., 2010. "Reevaluating the role of trade agreements: Does investment globalization make the WTO obsolete?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 63-72, September.
    9. Blanchard Emily J, 2007. "Foreign Direct Investment, Endogenous Tariffs, and Preferential Trade Agreements," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-52, November.
    10. Bown, Chad P. & Crowley, Meredith A., 2013. "Import protection, business cycles, and exchange rates: Evidence from the Great Recession," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 50-64.
    11. Beshkar, Mostafa & Bond, Eric W. & Rho, Youngwoo, 2015. "Tariff binding and overhang: Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 1-13.
    12. Kyle Handley & Nuno Limão, 2013. "Policy Uncertainty, Trade and Welfare: Theory and Evidence for China and the U.S," NBER Working Papers 19376, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Rodney D. Ludema & Anna Maria Mayda, 2013. "Do terms-of-trade effects matter for trade agreements? Theory and evidence from WTO Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(4), pages 1837-1893.
    14. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger & Ali Yurukoglu, "undated". "Multilateral Trade Bargaining: A First Look at the GATT Bargaining Records," Discussion Papers 15-028, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    15. Ralph Ossa, 2011. "A "New Trade" Theory of GATT/WTO Negotiations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 122-152.
    16. Chad P. Bown, 2011. "The Great Recession and Import Protection : The Role of Temporary Trade Barriers," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 16359.
    17. Kyle Handley & Nuno Limão, 2015. "Trade and Investment under Policy Uncertainty: Theory and Firm Evidence," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 189-222, November.
    18. 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.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    WTO; tariffs; terms-of-trade;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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