NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Is the WTO passé?

Kyle Bagwell, Chad P. Bown, Robert W. Staiger

NBER Working Paper No. 21303
Issued in June 2015
NBER Program(s):International Trade and Investment

The WTO has delivered policy outcomes that are very different from those likely to emerge out of the recent wave of preferential trade agreements (PTAs). Should economists see this as an efficient institutional hand-off, where the WTO has carried trade liberalization as far as it can manage, and is now passing the baton to PTAs to finish the job? We survey a growing economics literature on international trade agreements and argue on this basis that the WTO is not passé. Rather, and subject to some caveats, our survey of research to date suggests that the WTO is structured in a way that is likely to encourage policy outcomes that are viewed as efficiency enhancing by WTO member governments, while the analogous claim for PTA-led liberalization is less clear.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21303

Published: 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. citation courtesy of

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