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Bargaining strategies for Developing Countries at the WTO: the case of Thailand and the Agreement on Agriculture in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations

By Worakamol Meepiarn

Abstract

The central research question of the thesis concerns the bargaining and negotiating strategy, as well as the negotiating process, at the GATT and the WTO in relation to developing countries. The key questions this study set out to answer were: considering the vast power disparity developing countries face in multilateral trade negotiations in the GATT/WTO institution and among a number of available strategies, what is, then, the most effective bargaining strategy, under what conditions?\ud The thesis has sought to make a principal argument corresponding to the research question of this study, based on the findings of the case of Thailand’s participation at the Uruguay Round negotiations. Firstly, the thesis shows that Thailand, along with other developing countries with the same level of economic development and a similar level of experience in multilateral trade negotiations, has not been able to rely on merely one negotiating strategy in order to attain the sought after outcomes. The thesis then illustrates that bargaining strategies have to be exercised in all channels. To further systemise, bargaining strategies could possibly be grouped into three levels: (1) international, where coalition building and mixed strategy of distributive and integrative tactics can be utilised; (2) regional, where regional agreements/regional-based coalitions can be utilised as a springboard for bargaining; and (3) domestic, where the role of individual officials and ministers can feed into the effectiveness of the bargaining strategies being conducted. Therefore, the thesis argues that the limited bargaining power of developing countries makes coalition-building an especially crucial and most appealing tool for their effective diplomacy. The thesis also argues that the most effective bargaining tactics are those of a mixture of distributive and integrative tactics, as stipulated by Odell.\ud The thesis contends that Thailand’s experience seems to throw light on the inadequacies of the conventional accounts of domestic-driven negotiation analysis that assume the great role of domestic institutional inputs in the trade policy formulation process. They assume that trade negotiators and officials arrive at the negotiating position after having calculated and balanced inputs from diverse interests within the state. It is believed that negotiation alternatives for any country are direct outcomes of the particular alignment of domestic actors and interests. However, the finding suggests that a very different dynamic is at work in Thailand. Finally, the thesis has maintained that the driving force in trade policy and negotiating strategy in Thailand remains in the hands of the state, mainly via bureaucratic officials. Therefore, new development in negotiation analysis is needed that is of relevance to developing countries’ experiences, since many developing countries with very different political structures and societies have reacted in very similar ways at the international level

Topics: JZ
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:2232

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