Providing Protection: Agricultural Support and the Flexibility of Preferential Trade Agreements in Democracies
What explains the variations in escape clauses in trade agreements? This paper examines how agricultural support affects the design of preferential trade agreements (PTAs). I hypothesize that democratic political elites with survival incentives choose flexible trade agreements as they are concerned more about domestic agricultural sectors. Flexible design of treaties enables members to shirk their contractual duties temporarily and can be often used as protectionist measures. To validate this argument, I construct a measure of flexibility using a Bayesian item response theory that treats flexibility as a latent characteristic of trade agreements. With this index and panel data covering 648 PTAs signed from 1948-2017, I find that political leaders are more likely to introduce flexibility provisions when entering into trade agreements as they confer more agricultural subsidies to farmers. In addition to providing a continuous index to measure PTA flexibility, the paper introduces a robust predictor of trade agreement flexibility that has been overlooked in previous work.

Jeheung (Jay) Ryu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Rochester. He holds M.P.P. in Public Policy and International Relations and Economics from Seoul National University. His research interests include International Political Economy and Quantitative Methodology, and combines substantive topics in international trade politics, foreign direct investment, and economic sanctions with statistical methods, including Bayesian inference, text mining, and causal inference. In his dissertation, he explores how domestic actors influence the level of trade liberalization and who controls international trade regimes at the multilateral and bilateral/regional levels. His recent work has appeared in The Review of International Organizations.
Speaker(s) Mr Jeheung (Jay) RYU
PhD candidate in Political Science, U of Rochester
Date 20 Feb 2020 (Thursday)
Time 11:00 am
Venue By zoom at the link:
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
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