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Does WTO dispute settlement enforce or inform?

Sattler, Thomas, Spilker, Gabriele and Bernauer, Thomas (2014) Does WTO dispute settlement enforce or inform? British Journal of Political Science, 44 (4). pp. 877-902. ISSN 0007-1234

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0007123413000136


Whereas some researchers emphasize how WTO dispute settlement reduces complexity and clarify legislation, others argue that dispute rulings promote cooperation by providing an enforcement mechanism. We identify empirical implications from these distinct arguments and test these on WTO disputes from 1995 to 2006. Our analytical approach combines a three step coding of dispute escalation with a strategic bargaining model and statistical backwards induction to account for forward-looking behavior of governments. We find strong support for the argument that WTO dispute settlement primarily serves as an enforcement device. We find much less support for dispute settlement reducing complexity and clarifying trade law. This suggests that the role of WTO dispute settlement in generating information on acceptable trade policy standards is less relevant than proponents of the complexity argument tend to assume.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JX International law
J Political Science > JZ International relations
JEL classification: F - International Economics > F1 - Trade
F - International Economics > F1 - Trade > F13 - Commercial Policy; Protection; Promotion; Trade Negotiations; International Trade Organizations
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2012 13:57
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:07

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