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Multilateral Trade Bargaining: A First Look at the GATT Bargaining Records

Mar 2017
Working Paper
Kyle Bagwell, Robert W. Staiger, Ali Yurukoglu
This paper empirically examines recently declassi…ed data from the GATT/WTO on tariff bargaining. Focusing on the Torquay Round (1950-51), we document six stylized facts about these interconnected high-stakes international negotiations. Several of these stylized facts lend support to two features that are seen by GATT practitioners and legal scholars as hallmarks of the tari¤ bargaining that occurred in the early GATT rounds, namely, a surprising lack of strategic behavior among the participating governments and an important multilateral element to the bilateral bargains. We suggest that these features
can be understood as emerging from a tari¤ bargaining forum that emphasizes the GATT pillars of MFN and multilateral reciprocity, and we o¤er evidence that the relaxation of strict bilateral reciprocity facilitated by the GATT multilateral bargaining forum was important to the success of the GATT approach.
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