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International agreements on product standard: an incomplete contracting theory

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  • Pierpaolo Battigalli
  • Giovanni Maggi

Abstract

We propose a theory of international agreements on product standards. The key feature of the model is that agreements are viewed as incomplete contracts. In particular, these do not specify standards for products that may arise in the future. One potential remedy to contractual incompleteness is a dispute settlement procedure (DSP) that provides arbitration in states of the world that are not covered by the ex ante agreement. We identify conditions under which a DSP can provide ex-ante efficiency gains, and examine how these gains depend on the fundamentals of the problem. Another potential remedy to contractual incompleteness is given by rigid rules, i.e. rules that are not product-specific. We argue that the nondiscrimination rule is the only rule of this kind that increases ex ante efficiency for any probability distribution over potential products. Finally we show that, under relatively weak conditions, the optimal ex-ante agreement is structured in three parts: (i) a set of clauses that specify standards for existing products; (ii) a rigid nondiscrimination rule, and (iii) a dispute settlement procedure. Although the model focuses on the case of product standards, the analysis suggests a more general incomplete-contracting theory of trade agreements.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2003. "International agreements on product standard: an incomplete contracting theory," NBER Working Papers 9533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9533
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Essaji Azim, 2010. "Trade Liberalization, Standards and Protection," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-21, July.
    2. Henrik Horn & Giovanni Maggi & Robert W. Staiger, 2010. "Trade Agreements as Endogenously Incomplete Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 394-419, March.
    3. Sergei Guriev & Mikhail Klimenko, 2015. "Duration and Term Structure of Trade Agreements," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 125(589), pages 1818-1849, December.
    4. Henrik Horn, 2006. "National Treatment in the GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 394-404, March.
    5. Kyle Bagwell & Chad P. Bown & Robert W. Staiger, 2016. "Is the WTO Passé?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1125-1231, December.
    6. Costinot, Arnaud, 2008. "A comparative institutional analysis of agreements on product standards," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 197-213, May.
    7. repec:eee:worbus:v:53:y:2018:i:2:p:164-176 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. JINJI Naoto, 2009. "An Economic Theory of the SPS Agreement," Discussion papers 09033, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    9. Beverelli, Cosimo & Boffa, Mauro & Keck, Alexander, 2014. "Trade policy substitution: Theory and evidence from Specific Trade Concerns," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2014-18, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
    10. Maggi, Giovanni, 2014. "International Trade Agreements," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier.
    11. Inaba, Masaru & Nutahara, Kengo, 2009. "The role of investment wedges in the Carlstrom-Fuerst economy and business cycle accounting," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(3), pages 200-203, December.
    12. Giovanni Maggi & Robert W. Staiger, 2008. "On the Role and Design of Dispute Settlement Procedures in International Trade Agreements," NBER Working Papers 14067, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Robert W. Staiger & Alan O. Sykes, 2009. "International Trade and Domestic Regulation," NBER Working Papers 15541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment

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