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Peer-reviewing in international institutions: States’ activity in WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism

Governance
Institutions
International Relations
Political Economy
WTO
Global
Quantitative
Trade
Jan Karlas
Charles University
Jan Karlas
Charles University
Michal Parizek
Charles University

Abstract

This paper deals with monitoring in international institutions. More specifically, it is concerned with the peer-reviewing activity of states, i.e. with states’ effort to review the behaviour of their fellow members, in particular the correspondence between this behaviour and the goals and rules of the respective institution. To study peer-reviewing activity, the paper concentrates on one of its notable cases, namely the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM). The paper has two distinct goals. First, it describes the variation in states’ activity in Trade Policy Reviews (TPRs). It measures this activity by considering both written questions that states submit before the sessions of the Trade Policy Review Body (TPRB) and statements that they deliver during the sessions. In this way, the paper puts forward a comprehensive descriptive account of states’ reviewing activity in the TPRM over six consecutive years (2010 – 2015), corresponding to one complete cycle of TPRs. Second, the paper seeks to account for the identified variation in the activity. In order to focus on suitable explanatory factors, it primarily draws on the established political economy literature. It tests the significance of a number of conventional predictors related to domestic economic interests and structures (such as trade flows, trade openness, or market size). At the same time, it also examines the explanatory power of several variables of a political nature.