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Designing the Multilateral Trading System: Voting Equality at the International Trade Organization

  • AYSE KAYA (a1)

Through detailed archival analysis, this paper examines states' voting rights and representation in the International Trade Organization (ITO), which remains an under-analyzed aspect of the post-war multilateral trading system. The paper shows that the US designers of the ITO preferred and pursued formal voting equality because they reasoned it served the institution's intended functions and purposes better than weighted voting. But, as the negotiations undermined US priorities, particularly on balance of payment (BOP) questions, the designers presented a proposal for mirroring the IMF's weighted voting at the ITO. They, however, returned to their original proposal of voting equality when the ultimate draft of the ITO reflected their key preferences without resorting to weighted voting. By closely tracing the drafters' thinking throughout the evolution of the negotiations, the paper contributes to understanding the design of multilateral institutions as well as US behavior in the creation of the post-war multilateral system.

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G. Bronz (1949), ‘The International Trade Organization Charter’, Harvard Law Review, 62: 10891125.

J. Gold (1972), Voting and Decisions in the International Monetary Fund: An Essay on the Law and Practice of the Fund, Washington, DC: International Monetary Fund.

B. M. Hoekman and M. M. Kostecki (2001), The Political Economy of the World Trading System: The WTO and Beyond, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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J. Pauwelyn (2005), ‘The Sutherland Report: A Missed Opportunity for Genuine Debate on Trade, Globalization and Reforming the WTO’, Journal of International and Economic Law, 8(2): 329346.

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A. Thompson (2010), ‘Rational Design in Motion: Uncertainty and Flexibility in the Global Climate Regime’, European Journal of International Relations, 16(2): 269296.

C. Wilcox (1949b), ‘Why the International Trade Organization?’, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 264: 6774.

R. Wilkinson and J. Scott (2008), ‘Developing Country Participation in the GATT: A Reassessment’, World Trade Review, 7(3): 473510.

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World Trade Review
  • ISSN: 1474-7456
  • EISSN: 1475-3138
  • URL: /core/journals/world-trade-review
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