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The WTO Promotes Trade, Strongly But Unevenly

  • Shang-Jin Wei
  • Arvind Subramanian

This paper furnishes robust evidence that the GATT/WTO has had a powerful and positive impact on trade. The impact has, however, been uneven. GATT/WTO membership for industrial countries has been associated with a large increase in imports estimated at about 40 percent of world trade. The same has not been true for developing country members, although those that joined after the Uruguay Round have benefited from increased imports. Similarly, there have been asymmetric effects among sectors, with WTO membership associated with substantially greater imports in sectors where barriers are low. These results are consistent with the history and design of the institution, which presided over significant trade liberalization by the industrial countries except in sectors such as food and clothing; largely exempted developing countries from the obligations to liberalize under the principle of special and differential treatment; but attempted to redress the latter by imposing greater obligations on developing country members that joined after the Uruguay Round.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 03/185.

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Length: 41
Date of creation: 01 Sep 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:03/185
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  1. Arvind Subramanian & Aaditya Mattoo & Devesh Roy, 2002. "The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and its Rules of Origin; Generosity Undermined?," IMF Working Papers 02/158, International Monetary Fund.
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  17. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
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  19. Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1997. "Regional Trading Blocs in the World Economic System," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 72.
  20. Aaditya Mattoo & Arvind Subramanian, 2004. "The WTO and the Poorest Countries; The Stark Reality," IMF Working Papers 04/81, International Monetary Fund.
  21. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
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