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Dispute Settlement at the WTO and the Dole Commission: USTR Resources and Success


  • Saxonhouse, Gary R.

    (University of Michigan)


At the time the Uruguay Round Agreements were passed by Congress, particular concern was expressed about their implications for U.S. national sovereignty. Concern was sufficiently great that the Clinton Administration committed its support to the creation of a commission that would review each adverse decision against the United States by the WTO. The commission was designed such that the outcome of its review process might trigger a serious Congressional consideration of U.S. withdrawal from the WTO. While the so-called Dole Commission was never created, the Congressional controversy surrounding the ratification of the Uruguay Round Agreement has led to particular concern with USTR performance at the WTO. Curiously, enhanced Congressional concern has not gone hand in hand with more resources for USTR. Over the 1990s, USTR has rarely asked for, and, until 2000 has not received additional resources for its work. The analysis here shows that if the USTR is concerned not only about the number of cases it wins but also about its rate of success, having more resources may have an ambiguous impact on the USTR's rate of success. Depending on how relatively promising are the additional cases that may yet be brought by USTR to the WTO, and how usefully additional resources may be applied to existing cases, it is possible that more resources can lower USTR's success rate. This is true, though for different reasons, when explicit allowance is made for the response by the other party to the dispute to a USTR commitment of additional resources. More resources cannot explain the increased use that the USTR has made since the WTO was established, because until recently USTR has received no additional resources. Rather, a more predictable DSM may have encouraged more rather than fewer cases to be brought to the WTO in preference to further efforts at extra-WTO bilateral settlements.

Suggested Citation

  • Saxonhouse, Gary R., 2001. "Dispute Settlement at the WTO and the Dole Commission: USTR Resources and Success," Working Papers 472, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  • Handle: RePEc:mie:wpaper:472

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