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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. Andrew K. Rose, 2004. "Do We Really Know That the WTO Increases Trade?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 98-114, March.
  2. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  3. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 2005. "Erratum to "Multilateral trade negotiations, bilateral opportunism and the rules of GATT/WTO" [J. Int. Econ. 63 (1) (2004) 1-29]," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 267-267, December.
  4. Panagariya, Arvind & Rodrik, Dani, 1993. "Political-Economy Arguments for a Uniform Tariff," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(3), pages 685-703, August.
  5. Mattoo, Aaditya & Roy, Devesh & Subramanian, Arvind, 2002. "The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and its rules of origin : generosity undermined?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2908, The World Bank.
  6. Andrew Rose, 2005. "Does the WTO Make Trade More Stable?," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 7-22, January.
  7. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Alan Deardorff, 1998. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade: Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," NBER Chapters, in: The Regionalization of the World Economy, pages 7-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  12. Mattoo, Aaditya & Subramanian, Arvind, 2004. "The WTO and the poorest countries: the stark reality," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(03), pages 385-407, November.
  13. repec:rus:hseeco:123147 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Intra-National versus International Trade: How Stubborn are Nations in Global Integration?," NBER Working Papers 5531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. David H. Romer & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1999. "Does Trade Cause Growth?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 379-399, June.
  16. Subramanian, Arvind & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2007. "The WTO promotes trade, strongly but unevenly," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 151-175, May.
  17. Rose, Andrew K, 2002. "Do WTO Members have More Liberal Trade Policy?," CEPR Discussion Papers 3659, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Wolf, Martin, 1987. "Differential and More Favorable Treatment of Developing Countries and the International Trading System," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 1(4), pages 647-68, September.
  19. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 2004. "Multilateral trade negotiations, bilateral opportunism and the rules of GATT/WTO," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 1-29, May.
  20. repec:rus:hseeco:123558 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. 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, June.
  22. Torsten Persson, 2001. "Currency unions and trade: how large is the treatment effect?," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(33), pages 433-462, October.
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