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International Trade and Domestic Regulation

  • Robert W. Staiger
  • Alan O. Sykes

Existing formal models of the relationship between trade policy and regulatory policy suggest the potential for a regulatory race to the bottom. WTO rules and disputes, however, center on complaints about excessively stringent regulations. This paper bridges the gap between the existing formal literature and the actual pattern of rules and disputes. Employing the terms-of-trade framework for the modeling of trade agreements, we show how "large" nations may have an incentive to impose discriminatory product standards against imported goods once border instruments are constrained, and how inefficiently stringent standards may emerge under certain circumstances even if regulatory discrimination is prohibited. We then assess the WTO legal framework in light of our results, arguing that it does a reasonably thorough job of policing regulatory discrimination, but that it does relatively little to address excessive nondiscriminatory regulations.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15541.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 15541.

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Date of creation: Nov 2009
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Publication status: published as International Trade, National Treatment and Domestic Regulation (with Alan Sykes), Journal of Legal Studies, January 2011
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15541
Note: ITI
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Kyle Bagwell, 2009. "Self-Enforcing Trade Agreements and Private Information," NBER Working Papers 14812, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Horn, Henrik, 2006. "National Treatment in the GATT," CEPR Discussion Papers 5450, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Ludema, R.D. & Wooton, I., 1992. "Cross-Border Externalities and trade Liberalization: The Strategic Control of Pollution," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 9202, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  4. Ludema, Rodney D & Wooton, Ian, 1997. "International Trade Rules and Environmental Cooperation under Asymmetric Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(3), pages 605-25, August.
  5. 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.
  6. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2003. "International agreements on product standards: an incomplete-contracting theory," Working Papers 229, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. Schwartz, Warren F & Sykes, Alan O, 2002. "The Economic Structure of Renegotiation and Dispute Resolution in the World Trade Organization," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages S179-204, January.
  8. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  10. Josh Ederington, 2001. "International Coordination of Trade and Domestic Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1580-1593, December.
  11. Costinot, Arnaud, 2008. "A comparative institutional analysis of agreements on product standards," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 197-213, May.
  12. 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.
  13. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 1999. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty and International Economic Institutions," NBER Working Papers 7293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Christian Broda & Nuno Limao & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Optimal Tariffs and Market Power: The Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2032-65, December.
  15. Sumeet Gulati & Devesh Roy, 2008. "National Treatment and the optimal regulation of environmental externalities," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1445-1471, November.
  16. Rodney D. Ludema & Taizo Takeno, 2007. "Tariffs and the adoption of clean technology under asymmetric information," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(4), pages 1100-1117, November.
  17. Markusen, James R., 1975. "International externalities and optimal tax structures," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 15-29, February.
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