Enforcement, Private Political Pressure and the Gatt/Wto Escape Clause

51 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2005 Last revised: 11 Jul 2010

See all articles by Kyle Bagwell

Kyle Bagwell

Stanford University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Robert W. Staiger

Stanford University; University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2004

Abstract

We consider the design and implementation of international trade agreements when: (i) negotiations are undertaken and commitments made in the presence of uncertainty about future political pressures; (ii) governments possess private information about political pressures at the time that the agreement is actually implemented; and (iii) negotiated commitments can be implemented only if they are self-enforcing. We thus consider the design of self-enforcing trade agreements among governments that acquire private information over time. In this context, we provide equilibrium interpretations of GATT/WTO negotiations regarding upper bounds on applied tariffs and GATT/WTO escape clauses. We find that governments achieve greater welfare when they negotiate the optimal upper bound on tariffs rather than precise tariff levels; furthermore, when governments negotiate the optimal upper bound on tariffs, the observed applied tariffs often fall strictly below the bound. Our analysis also provides a novel interpretation of a feature of the WTO Safeguard Agreement, under which escape clause actions cannot be re-imposed in the same industry for a time period equal to the duration of the most recent escape clause action. We find that a dynamic usage constraint of this kind can raise the expected welfare of negotiating governments.

Suggested Citation

Bagwell, Kyle and Staiger, Robert W., Enforcement, Private Political Pressure and the Gatt/Wto Escape Clause (December 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10987, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=637484

Kyle Bagwell (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Robert W. Staiger

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

University of Wisconsin - Madison - Department of Economics ( email )

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Madison, WI 53706
United States
608-262-2265 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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