GATT-Think with Asymmetric Countries
We argue that, in the presence of asymmetric countries, a trade agreement that conforms to GATT’s reciprocity rule allows the (stronger) less trade dependent country to improve its welfare relative to both the free trade and the trade war. Conversely, the (weaker) more trade dependent country cannot reach the free trade welfare level under reciprocity, although its welfare improves relative to the trade war. Reciprocity is so unfavorable to the weaker country that it may be worse off under reciprocity than under the Nash bargaining solution, a ‘power-based’ approach to trade negotiations that reflects power asymmetries among trading partners. Our results question Bagwell and Staiger (1999, 2000)’s view of reciprocity as a rule that “serves to mitigate the influence of power asymmetries on negotiated outcomes”.
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