IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The GATT as international discipline over trade restrictions : a public choice approach


  • Finger, J. Michael


The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was built on a mercantilist sense of economic welfare and a mercantilist sense that domestic producers had a higher claim than foreign producers to the domestic market. The trade negotiations process did not attack this claim. It gave producers in each country an opportunity to increase its value through mutually beneficial exchanges with producers in other countries. The process worked as long as institutions forced all producers in a country to reach a collective decision on trade policy. Another mutation of GATT institutions has begun with the development in the United States of"301", which provides a way for exporting producers to advance their interests without bearing the burden of suppressing or buying off import competing interests. Indeed,"301"attacks foreign restrictions not with the possibility of fewer U.S. restrictions, but with the threat of more. Trade remedy processes have been installed in many countries, so"301s"should not be far behind. The GATT system was devised to promote global security and free trade. In the present system, export interests will generate trade conflicts and import competing interestswill generate trade restrictions. Simply put, the institutions that shape the relevant public choices do not bring out the appropriate economic interests, and the resulting policy choices are not those that promote economic efficiency.

Suggested Citation

  • Finger, J. Michael, 1990. "The GATT as international discipline over trade restrictions : a public choice approach," Policy Research Working Paper Series 402, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:402

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Coughlin, Cletus C & Terza, Joseph V & Khalifah, Noor Aini, 1989. "The Determinants of Escape Clause Petitions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(2), pages 341-347, May.
    2. Takacs, Wendy E, 1985. "More on Protectionist Pressure and Aggregate Economic Conditions: A Reply [Pressures for Protectionism: An Empirical Analysis]," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(1), pages 183-184, January.
    3. Salvatore, Dominick, 1987. "Import penetration, exchange rates, and protectionism in the United States," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 125-141.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Gould, David M. & Woodbridge, Graeme L., 1998. "The political economy of retaliation, liberalization and trade wars," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 115-137, February.
    2. Ethier, Wilfred J., 2007. "The theory of trade policy and trade agreements: A critique," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 605-623, September.
    3. Finger, Michael J. & Dhar, Sumana, 1992. "Do rules control power? GATT articles and arrangements in the Uruguay Round," Policy Research Working Paper Series 818, The World Bank.
    4. Wilfred J. Ethier, 2002. "Trade Policies Based on Political Externalities: An Exploration, Third Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-006, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 04 Feb 2004.
    5. Kozloff, Keith & Runge, C. Ford, 1991. "International Trade In The Food Sector And Environmental Quality, Health, And Safety: A Survey Of Policy Issues," Staff Papers 13325, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    6. William Kaempfer & Ed Tower & Thomas D. Willett, 2002. "Trade Protectionism - Encyclopedia Entry," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-19, Claremont Colleges.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:402. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Roula I. Yazigi). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.