The political economy of bilateralism and multilateralism: Institutional choice in international trade and taxation
Trade relations are governed by the multilateral GATT, whereas the avoidance of international double taxation rests on a network of around 2000 bilateral treaties. Given the two regimes' similar economic rationales this difference between bilateralism in international double tax avoidance and multilateralism in the trade regime poses an empirical puzzle. In this paper we develop an answer to this puzzle. Differentiating between different stages of international cooperation, we first describe the institutional form in the bargaining and agreement stages of cooperation. This description shows that the regimes are quite similar in the bargaining stage, both exhibiting a mix of bilateral and multilateral bargaining. However, while agreement is multilateral in the trade regime it is bilateral in taxation. Based on stylized institutional histories of both cases we develop simple game theoretic models incorporating domestic level considerations. Building on these models we then go on to explain the institutional choice between bilateral and multilateral cooperation. We show that state concerns for the distribution of benefits can be best achieved under bilateral bargaining in both regimes. However, in order to lower transaction costs there are also elements of multilateral bargaining. Agreement is multilateral in trade in order to overcome a free-rider problem that results from an interaction of concerns for distribution and enforcement. Since such a problem of free-riding does not exist in taxation, there is no need for binding multilateral agreement.
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- Chisik, Richard & Davies, Ronald B., 2004.
"Asymmetric FDI and tax-treaty bargaining: theory and evidence,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 88(6), pages 1119-1148, June.
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- Chisik, Richard & Ronald B. Davies, 2002. "Asymmetric FDI and Tax-Treaty Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 48, Royal Economic Society.
- Richard Chisik & Ronald B. Davies, 2010. "Asymmetric FDI and Tax-Treaty Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 020, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.
- Richard Chisik & Ronald B. Davies, 2001. "Asymmetric FDI and Tax-Treaty Bargaining: Theory and Evidence"," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2001-2, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Jun 2002.
- Fearon, James D., 1998. "Bargaining, Enforcement, and International Cooperation," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(02), pages 269-305, March.
- Richard Chisik & Ronald B. Davies, 2004.
"Gradualism In Tax Treaties With Irreversible Foreign Direct Investment,"
International Economic Review,
Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 45(1), pages 113-139, 02.
- Richard Chisik & Ronald B. Davies, 2000. "Gradualism in Tax Treaties with Irreversible Foreign Direct Investment," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2000-3, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Jun 2002.
- Richard Chisik & Ronald B. Davies, 2010. "Gradualism in Tax Treaties with Irreversible Foreign Direct Investment," Working Papers 019, Ryerson University, Department of Economics.
- Ronald B. Davies, 2004. "Tax Treaties and Foreign Direct Investment: Potential versus Performance," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 11(6), pages 775-802, November.
- Dehejia, Vivek H. & Genschel, Philipp, 1998. "Tax competition in the European Union," MPIfG Discussion Paper 98/3, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
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