International Trade and Developing Countries: Bargaining Coalitions in the GATT & WTO

International Trade and Developing Countries: Bargaining Coalitions in the GATT & WTO

International Trade and Developing Countries: Bargaining Coalitions in the GATT & WTO

International Trade and Developing Countries: Bargaining Coalitions in the GATT & WTO


Anbsp;keen analysis of how and why countries bargain together in groups in world affairs, and why such coalitions are crucial to individual developing nations. It also reveals the effects these negotiating blocs are having on world affairs. Successful coalition building has proven to be a difficult and expensive process. Allies are often not obvious and need to be carefully identified. Large numbers do not necessarily entail a proportionate increase in influence. And the weak have the choice of teaming up against or jumping on the bandwagon with the strong. Even after it has been organised, collective action entails costs of many kinds. This book investigates the relevance and workability of coalitions as an instrument of bargaining power for the weak. More specifically, this analyzes the coalition strategies of developing countries at the inter-state level, particularly in the context of international trade. Given the nature of this enquiry, this new study uses theoretical and empirical methods to complement each other. The theoretical approach draws from a plethora of writings: formal theories of clubs and coalitions, theories of domestic political economy and theories of international relations. The empirical analysis of comparable coalitions becomes necessary to assist in this theorising, so the greater part of the book focuses mainly (though not exclusively) on coalitions involving developing countries on the issue-area of trade in services. Through the case-studies of the Uruguay Round and an analytical overview of more recent coalitions, this text fills an important gap in the literature of international political economy and international relations where most GATT/WTO-based coalitions have eluded record. This book will be of great interest to all students of international relations, politics and globalization.


The story of international trade regulation in the postwar period is a tale of institutional discrimination. The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) predecessor - the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) - instituted a highly discriminatory process of trade liberalisation wherein the economic preferences of the advanced industrial states prevailed over those of their less able developing counterparts. The creation of the WTO in January 1995 promised the beginning of a new era in international trade wherein developing country access to key markets would no longer be restricted by the limitations of the GATT and all states would be able to participate on an equitable footing.

The promise of a new era was, however, short-lived. The WTO’s third ministerial meeting in late 1999 witnessed not only public dissatisfaction on the streets of Seattle, but also a revolt by developing countries. The result was the postponement of the launch of a new round of trade negotiations and the crystallisation of inertia within the Organisation; the response was the instigation of a process of courtship designed, at one and the same time, to nurture public confidence in the WTO and bring developing countries back to the negotiating table. Eventually, assisted to a large degree by the conciliatory international political climate that followed the September 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, a new trade round was launched at the WTO’s fourth ministerial meeting (November 2001) in Doha (officially titled the ‘Doha Agenda’).

Reflecting the post-Seattle bargain reached between the key protagonists, the new round placed ‘development’ at its core. However, preliminary reports suggest it has been far from successful. To date negotiations in key areas have stalled or collapsed and, in some cases, failed to get underway. Indeed, it appears that solutions to the disadvantages that the developing countries face in participating in international trade remain as elusive as ever.

Set against this backdrop, Amrita Narlikar’s book contributes to understanding the plight of developing countries in international trade and the strategies they have employed to offset the biases with which they have been faced in an important and intellectually challenging way. Narlikar offers a meticulous and critical examination of the relevance and workability of coalitions as instruments to bolster the bargaining power of developing countries in trade negotiations. Drawing upon and contributing to theoretical understandings of coalitions, Narlikar . . .

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