The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

World Trade Organization

  • Robert W. Staiger
Reference work entry


The success of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)/World Trade Organization (WTO) as an international institution is widely acknowledged. Among multilateral institutions, the GATT/WTO has adopted a distinctive approach as a forum for international negotiation, based on reciprocal negotiations (over market access) that occur on a voluntary basis between pairs of countries or among small numbers of countries; the results of these bilateral negotiations are then ‘multilateralized’ to the full GATT/WTO membership under the GATT/WTO principle of non-discrimination. This article describes how recent economic research has attempted to understand and interpret these key design features of the GATT/ WTO.


Commitment theories of trade agreements Cost shifting Free trade General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Mercantilism Most favoured nation (MFN) Non-discrimination in trade Protection Reciprocity in trade Tariffs Terms-of-trade theories of trade agreements Unilateral and multilateral trade policies World Trade Organization (WTO) 

JEL Classifications

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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert W. Staiger
    • 1
  1. 1.