Sunday, October 9, 2011

Trade Developments

. Sunday, October 9, 2011

Some of this is already old news, but there were some developments on trade over the past week.

-- The US looks set to ratify FTAs with Columbia, South Korea, and Panama. I've been pondering a longer post about the value of FTAs, which I'll try to get to in the future. For now it's just worth noting that these deals are pretty small beer.

-- Russia's going to try to get into the WTO. Again. This is potentially important for Europe (and Russia); not so much for the US.

-- Obama's going after China on violating WTO rules by not reporting subsidies -- 200 of them, apparently -- some of which are probably WTO-illegal. I think this is important. China's trade policies are incredibly distorting, and the global economy needs a rebalancing. Adjustment is occurring, but perhaps not quickly enough. Going through the WTO is much better than risking a trade war by unilaterally imposing tariffs in response to currency manipulation.

-- So, of course, Congress is also risking a trade war by considering unilateral tariffs in response to Chinese currency manipulation.

And some new research:

Why Do Some Countries Get Better WTO Accession Terms Than Others
Krzysztof J. Pelc

International Organization 65 (4)
The process by which countries accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO) has become the subject of considerable debate. This article takes a closer look at what determines the concessions the institution requires of an entrant. In other words, who gets a good deal, and who does not? I argue that given the institutional design of accession proceedings and the resulting suspension of reciprocity, accession terms are driven by the domestic export interests of existing members. As a result, relatively greater liberalization will be imposed on those entrants that have more valuable market access to offer upon accession, something that appears to be in opposition to expectations during multilateral trade rounds, where market access functions as a bargaining chit. The empirical evidence supports these assertions. Looking at eighteen recent entrants at the six-digit product level, I find that controlling for a host of country-specific variables, as well as the applied protection rates on a given product prior to accession, the more a country has to offer, the more it is required to give. Moreover, I show how more democratic countries, in spite of their greater overall depth of integration, exhibit greater resistance to adjustment in key industries than do nondemocracies. Finally, I demonstrate that wealth exhibits a curvilinear effect. On the one hand, institutionalized norms lead members to exercise observable restraint vis-à-vis the poorest countries. On the other hand, the richest countries have the greatest bargaining expertise, and thus obtain better terms. The outcome, as I show using a semi-parametric analysis, is that middle-income countries end up with the most stringent terms, and have to make the greatest relative adjustments to their trade regimes.


Trade Developments
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