The WTO: Theory and Practice

We consider the purpose and design of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its predecessor, GATT.

We review recent developments in the relevant theoretical and empirical literature. And we describe the GATT/WTO architecture and briefly trace its historical antecedents. We suggest that the existing literature provides a useful framework for understanding and interpreting central features of the design and practice of the GATT/WTO, and we identify key unresolved issues.

No: ERSD-2009-11

Kyle Bagwell — Stanford and NBER
Robert W. Staiger — Stanford and NBER

Manuscript date: October 2009


back to top


This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of the author, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, nor the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the author. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, Rue de Lausanne 154, CH 1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

Download paper in pdf format (39 pages, 256KB)