Endowments, power, and democracy: political economy of multilateral commitments on trade in services

In spite of their growing importance in international trade as well as in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, services have only attracted limited attention from researchers interested in determinants of trade policies and trade cooperation.

This paper seeks to account for countries' varying levels of market access commitments under the multilateral General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). I develop an argument suggesting how levels of democracy and factor endowments are associated with more commitments. The empirical analysis supports these propositions, and also suggests that relative size, as well as regulatory capacity, are positively linked to GATS commitments.

No: ERSD-2010-11

Martin Roy Ś WTO

Manuscript date: June 2010

Key Words:

trade in services, GATS, democracy, relative power, endowments, WTO accessions, determinants of cooperation, determinants of international commitments, international negotiations.

JEL classification numbers:

F5, F13, L8, D72


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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.

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