Revisiting the "Compliance-vs.-Rebalancing" Debate in WTO Scholarship a Unified Research Agenda
This paper constitutes an attempt to reframe and eventually deflate the ongoing “compliance-vs.-rebalancing” debate which has permeated WTO scholarship for the last 10 years. At face value, this controversy circles around object and purpose of WTO enforcement and the legal nature of dispute panels’ recommendations: Compliance advocates maintain that the objective of WTO enforcement is to induce compliance with DSB panel/AB rulings, and to deter future violations of the Agreement, while rebalancing advocates detect an inherent “pay-or-perform” logic in WTO enforcement. In the paper we examine the shortcomings of each approach separately. Our main criticism, however, concerns the substance of the entire debate. We find that scholars on both sides of the compliance/rebalancing controversy put an unduly rigid emphasis on the subsequent issues of WTO enforcement and the interpretation of the wording of the dispute settlement understanding. They thereby neglected systemic issues of contracting, viz. the nature of contractual entitlements, the need for trade policy flexibility mechanisms and the optimal design of the appropriate remedies. We redefine and recalibrate the compliance/rebalancing controversy along the lines of the nature of the WTO contract. This results in to three key findings: First, none of the two schools of thought succeeds in giving an accurate picture of the WTO treaty. Second, the two perspectives actually portray two strikingly different concepts of the WTO contract, and therefore have been at cross-purposes from the very beginning. This implies a third finding: The two schools of thought essentially describe different facets of the same complex WTO contract. Hence, they have hardly been at loggerheads at all, and are actually complementing each other in important aspects. We lay out a unified research agenda that practitioners, economists, trade lawyers, and international relations scholars alike can accept. The agenda may contribute to reconciling the two opposing views and help WTO scholarship tackle the real systemic issues of the WTO Agreement.
|Date of creation:||Dec 2007|
|Date of revision:||Dec 2007|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: P.O. Box 36, 1211 Geneva 21|
Phone: ++41 22 731 17 30
Fax: ++41 22 738 43 06
Web page: http://www.graduateinstitute.ch/economics
More information through EDIRC
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.:
- Wolfe, Robert, 2003. "Regulatory transparency, developing countries and the WTO," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(02), pages 157-182, July.
- William P. Rogerson, 1984. "Efficient Reliance and Damage Measures for Breach of Contract," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(1), pages 39-53, Spring.
- Tim Josling, 2004. "WTO Dispute Settlement and the EU--US Mini Trade Wars: A Commentary on Fritz Breuss," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 4(4), pages 337-344, December.
- Holger Spamann, 2006. "The Myth of 'Rebalancing' Retaliation in WTO Dispute Settlement Practice," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 31-79, March.
- 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.
- Maggi, G & Rodriguez-Clare, A, 1996. "The Value of Trade Agreements in the Presence of Political Pressures," Papers 180, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
- Maggi, Giovanni, 1999. "Strategic Trade Policy under Incomplete Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 40(3), pages 571-594, August.
- Maggi, G., 1997. "Strategic Trade Policy Under Incomplete Information," Papers 189, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
- Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W, 1990. "A Theory of Managed Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 779-795, September.
- Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1988. "A Theory of Managed Trade," NBER Working Papers 2756, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1989. "A Theory of Managed Trade," Discussion Papers 801, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
- Krishna, Pravin & Mitra, Devashish, 2005. "Reciprocated unilateralism in trade policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 461-487, March.
- Chad P . Bown, 2002. "The Economics of Trade Disputes, the GATT's Article XXIII, and the WTO's Dispute Settlement Understanding," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(3), pages 283-323, November.
- Staiger, Robert W. & Tabellini, Guido, 1989. "Rules and discretion in trade policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 1265-1277, July.
- Robert W. Staiger & Guido Tabellini, 1988. "Rules and Discretion in Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 2658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
- Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1997. "An Economic Theory of GATT," NBER Working Papers 6049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bagwell,K. & Staiger,R.W., 1998. "An economic theory of GATT," Working papers 15, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
- Hungerford, Thomas L., 1991. "GATT: A cooperative equilibrium in a noncooperative trading regime?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3-4), pages 357-369, November.
- Chad P. Bown, 2004. "On the Economic Success of GATT/WTO Dispute Settlement," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(3), pages 811-823, August.
- Steven Shavell, 1980. "Damage Measures for Breach of Contract," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 11(2), pages 466-490, Autumn.
- Devashish Mitra, 1999. "Endogenous Lobby Formation and Endogenous Protection: A Long-Run Model of Trade Policy Determination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1116-1134, December.
- Donald H. Regan, 2006. "What Are Trade Agreements For? -- Two Conflicting Stories Told by Economists, With a Lesson for Lawyers," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 951-988, December.
- Sykes, Alan O., 2003. "The safeguards mess: a critique of WTO jurisprudence," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 2(03), pages 261-295, November.
- Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2005. "Enforcement, Private Political Pressure, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization Escape Clause," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 471-513, 06.
- Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2004. "The Economics of the World Trading System," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262524341, July.
- 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, 07.
- Bagwell, Kyle & Mavroidis, Petros C. & Staiger, Robert W., 2004. "The case for tradable remedies in WTO dispute settlement," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3314, The World Bank.
- 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.
- Fritz Breuss, 2004. "WTO Dispute Settlement: An Economic Analysis of four EU-US Mini Trade Wars," WIFO Working Papers 231, WIFO.
- Jolls, Christine, 1997. "Contracts as Bilateral Commitments: A New Perspective on Contract Modification," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(1), pages 203-237, January.
- Petersmann, Ernst-Ulrich, 1998. "From the Hobbesian International Law of Coexistence to Modern Integration Law: The WTO Dispute Settlement System," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 1(2), pages 175-198, June. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gii:giihei:heiwp29-2007. 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: (Dorina Dobre)
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.