Domestic political determinants of the onset of WTO disputes



Trade disputes are driven by domestic politics, and the onset of trade disputes are driven by changes in the leadership within states. We offer two stylized facts for explanation: Leader change leads to dispute onset, and the effect is greater in autocracies than in democracies. We develop a model that explains changes in trade policy and dispute onset induced by shifts in the sectors represented in government when leaders change. Democracies protect a wider set of industries at shallower levels than do autocracies. When leaders change in autocracies, new sectors enter the winning coalition, resulting in new deeper barriers that spark disputes. When leaders change in democracies, the change in the winning coalition is not as stark, and the depth of the shifts in trade barriers is not that large, resulting is a smaller effect on dispute initiation.


Leader change Dispute onset WTO Regime type 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PoliticsNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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