Collective Agency, Systemic Consequences: Bargaining Coalitions in the WTO

Amrita Narlikar

in The Oxford Handbook on The World Trade Organization

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199586103
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

 Collective Agency, Systemic Consequences: Bargaining Coalitions in the WTO

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The phenomenon of collective bargaining in the multilateral trade regime is not new; coalitions of developing countries go back to the days of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. But coalitions formed by developing countries to negotiate the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) display two new features that distinguish them markedly from their predecessors. First, the coalitions themselves have emerged as much ‘stronger’ actors. Second, the strong coalitions of the DDA have had an institutional impact, demonstrated not only in the recognition that they have received within the World Trade Organization (WTO), but also in their contribution to the proclivity of the system to deadlock. This article explores the role of coalitions in the institutional processes of the WTO. It argues that while bargaining coalitions, especially of developing countries, are first and foremost agents of the power which stems from collective agency, they have come to acquire a vital role in the WTO's decision-making and negotiation processes. The article also traces the changing rationale and structure of coalitions, from the Uruguay Round to the DDA.

Keywords: collective bargaining; multilateral trade; World Trade Organization; bargaining coalitions; Doha Development Agenda; Uruguay Round; developing countries; collective agency; negotiation; decision-making processes

Article.  10518 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Economy

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