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Subsidy Agreements

  • Kyle Bagwell
  • Robert W. Staiger

International disputes over subsidies are increasingly disrupting the world trading system. The creation of the WTO was nearly prevented by disputes in the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations over the issue of negotiating disciplines on agricultural subsidies, an issue which continues to plague the ongoing Doha Round of WTO negotiations. Ongoing disputes over subsidies that violate existing WTO rules have led to the largest amount of authorized retaliation in GATT/WTO history. Yet the international rules that govern subsidies have received little attention in the form of systematic economic analysis. In this paper we provide a first formal analysis of the international rules that govern the use of subsidies to domestic production (as distinct from export subsidies). Our analysis highlights the impact of the new disciplines on subsidies that were added to GATT rules with the creation of the WTO. Our results suggest that, although GATT subsidy rules were typically viewed as weak and inadequate while the WTO subsidy rules are seen as representing a significant strengthening of multilateral disciplines on subsidies, the key changes introduced by the WTO subsidy rules may ultimately do more harm than good to the multilateral trading system, by undermining the ability of tariff negotiations to serve as the mechanism for expanding market access to more efficient levels.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10292.

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Date of creation: Feb 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10292
Note: ITI
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  1. Bagwell,K. & Staiger,R.W., 2000. "Strategic trade, competitive industries and agricultural trade disputes," Working papers 11, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  2. Robert Z. Lawrence, 2003. "Crimes and Punishments?: Retaliation under the WTO," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 372.
  3. 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.
  4. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1997. "An Economic Theory of GATT," NBER Working Papers 6049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 1997. "Strategic export subsidies and reciprocal trade agreements: The natural monopoly case," Japan and the World Economy, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 491-510, December.
  6. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2001. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty, And International Economic Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 519-562, May.
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