Title

The politics of international trade negotiations over intermestic issues: The European Community and the liberalization of agricultural trade at the Uruguay Round

Date of Completion

January 2005

Keywords

Political Science, General|Political Science, International Law and Relations

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Why do countries enact free trade? The empirical puzzle that motivates this project is that whereas trade liberalization is almost always in each country's aggregated economic interest, it is rare to find instances in which countries have sought sharp, sudden reductions in rates of import protection. The reason, as much of the extant literature on trade liberalization has emphasized, is that the political costs of free trade outweigh the economic benefits. This dissertation seeks to address the question of why and under which circumstances government leaders assume the political risk of passing free trade policies; it attempts to provide a plausible explanation of circumstances under which governments overturn longstanding traditions of protectionism in favor of fairly rapid reversals toward free trade policies. In doing so, this dissertation develops a model that conceptualize free trade and cooperation not as a first-order objective of the free-trade advocator, but rather as the by-product of a pursuit of larger, more politically rewarding objectives. ^ The main argument of this dissertation is the following: all aspects of cooperation are affected by domestic considerations because cooperation at the international level is a continuation of domestic political struggles by other means. My central claim is that states are not unitary actors but a structure composed of actors with varying preferences who share power over decision-making; and because the struggle for political power domestically is critical for them, international trade negotiations became a political game nested within the bigger game of domestic politics. I rely on game theory and other theoretical constructs to assess this interaction. I test the model's theoretical propositions by analyzing archival information from concerning the European Community (EC) negotiation process on agricultural liberalization during the 1986-1994 Uruguay Round GATT negotiations. ^ The findings from the EC-Uruguay Round case demonstrates that the sequential, complex and time-consuming nature of international negotiations better explain the conditions that were most important in shaping the political incentives and calculations of the EC negotiation group to agree over agricultural liberalization. The challenge of this paper is to contribute to a wider purpose: to provide those with a theoretical and practical interest in international trade negotiations with insights into the contextual and political factors that explain free trade policies. ^