IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Cooperation in WTO's Tariff Waters

  • Alessandro Nicita
  • Marcelo Olarreaga
  • Peri Silva

A rationale for cooperation in trade negotiations is the internalization of terms-of-trade externalities. With the help of a simple theoretical framework we show that the textbook prediction that non-cooperative tariffs are positively correlated to the importer’s market power is reversed when tariffs are set cooperatively. We use this prediction to identify the extent of cooperation reflected in WTO members’ tariffs. Because many members of the WTO apply tariffs well below the negotiated tariff bounds, creating what is known as tariff water, there is also room for WTO members to set non-cooperative tariffs. As expected, we found that in the absence of tariff water, WTO tariffs are set cooperatively. Interestingly, non-cooperative tariff setting is only observed in the presence of suffficiently large amounts of tariff water, suggesting that cooperation in the WTO goes well beyond negotiated tariff bounds. We also found evidence that cooperation within WTO tariff waters can be explained by the fear of retaliation from trading partners with market power and tariff water in their schedules.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institut d'Economie et Econométrie, Université de Genève in its series Research Papers by the Institute of Economics and Econometrics, Geneva School of Economics and Management, University of Geneva with number 13061.

in new window

Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gen:geneem:13061
Contact details of provider: Postal:
40 Boulevard du Pont-d'Arve, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland

Phone: +41 22 379 8263
Fax: +41 22 379 82 93
Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. By Kishore Gawande & Pravin Krishna & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2012. "Lobbying Competition Over Trade Policy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 53(1), pages 115-132, 02.
  2. Henrik Horn & Giovanni Maggi & Robert W. Staiger, 2006. "Trade Agreements as Endogenously Incomplete Contracts," NBER Working Papers 12745, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Trade Wars and Trade Talks," Papers 163, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  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. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
  6. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2006. "What Do Trade Negotiators Negotiate About? Empirical Evidence from the World Trade Organization," NBER Working Papers 12727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Rose, Andrew K, 2002. "Do We Really Know that the WTO Increases Trade?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3538, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. James E. Anderson & J. Peter Neary, 1996. "A New Approach to Evaluating Trade Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 63(1), pages 107-125.
  9. Bruce A. Blonigen & Chad P. Bown, 2001. "Antidumping and Retaliation Threats," NBER Working Papers 8576, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Liliana Foletti & Marco Fugazza & Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2011. "Smoke in the (Tariff) Water," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(2), pages 248-264, 02.
  11. Harrigan, James, 1997. "Technology, Factor Supplies, and International Specialization: Estimating the Neoclassical Model," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 475-94, September.
  12. Kee, Hiau Looi & Nicita, Alessandro & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2004. "Import Demand Elasticities and Trade Distortions," CEPR Discussion Papers 4669, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Hoekman, Bernard M. & Kostecki, Michel M., 2009. "The Political Economy of the World Trading System," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, edition 3, number 9780199553778, December.
  14. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Networks versus Markets in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 5617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Semykina, Anastasia & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2010. "Estimating panel data models in the presence of endogeneity and selection," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 157(2), pages 375-380, August.
  16. Olarreaga, Marcelo & Soloaga, Isidro & Winters, Alan, 1999. "What's behind MERCOSUR's common external tariff?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2231, The World Bank.
  17. Michael Tomz & Judith L. Goldstein & Douglas Rivers, 2007. "Do We Really Know That the WTO Increases Trade? Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 2005-2018, December.
  18. Manuel Arellano & Stephen Bond, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(2), pages 277-297.
  19. 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.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gen:geneem:13061. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.