Is the WTO passé?
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.
Bagwell thanks the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences for support and hospitality. Bown acknowledges financial support from the World Bank's Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Trade and Development. We thank Steven Durlauf, Douglas Irwin, Nuno Limão, Daniel Trefler and six anonymous referees for very useful and detailed comments on an earlier draft. Semira Ahdiyyih provided outstanding research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
As part of a diversified portfolio, I hold more than $10,000 in stock of various public companies that may have interests in current trade deal negotiations.Robert W. Staiger
In the Fall of 2011, I served as a consultant for the WTO and wrote a background paper ( http://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~rstaiger/NTMs_WTO_123111 ) for the WTO's World Trade Report 2012.
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