The Review of International Organizations

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 49–75 | Cite as

The internationalization of production and the politics of compliance in WTO disputes

  • Aydin B. Yildirim
  • J. Tyson Chatagnier
  • Arlo Poletti
  • Dirk De Bièvre


In this paper we seek to advance the debate on the conditions under which the WTO Dispute Settlement Body can bring about trade-liberalizing policy change in WTO members. Under what conditions do WTO members change domestic policies or measures that are challenged in WTO litigation? Starting from the assumption that policymakers are political-support maximizers who seek to avoid the mobilization of political enemies, we argue that the degree of integration in Global Value Chains (GVCs) of the economic sectors affected by a WTO dispute influences members’ propensity to change domestic policies when targeted in WTO litigation. The initiation of a WTO dispute against sectors highly integrated in GVCs engenders the emergence of a domestic coalition of pro-trade liberalization groups composed of exporters seeking to avoid the imposition of retaliatory measures and import-dependent firms wishing to exploit the opportunity to access cheaper imports. Under these circumstances, trade-liberalizing responses to WTO legal challenges are therefore more likely. We test this hypothesis by estimating a Cox proportional hazard model and find that GVCs positively impact states’ propensity to comply with the WTO dispute settlement panel rulings.


International institutions World trade organization Global value chains Compliance 



We are grateful to the attendees of the 9th Political Economy of International Organizations (PEIO) conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah. We extend our thanks to Leonardo Baccini, for his valuable comments. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the Research Fund of the University of Antwerp.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aydin B. Yildirim
    • 1
  • J. Tyson Chatagnier
    • 2
  • Arlo Poletti
    • 3
  • Dirk De Bièvre
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Sociology and Social ResearchUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  4. 4.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium

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