Since the end of World War II, the freeing of trade has been most visible in reciprocal liberalization agreements negotiated under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, and through increasing bilateral and plurilateral agreements. There has also, however, been a significant, if less visible, unilateral freeing of trade by several nations.
This book, based on a research project directed by Jagdish Bhagwati, examines the experiences with such unilateral trade liberalization. Part 1 considers historical experiences, following Britain’s unilateral embrace of free trade. Part 2 discusses recent examples, and Part 3 discusses unilateral liberalization in specific sectors. The substantive introduction provides a synthesis of the findings as well as theoretical support. It argues that although unilateral freeing of trade is generally less beneficial than reciprocity, it can trigger "sequential" reciprocity through example or by encouraging lobbies abroad to favor trade expansion.
About the Editor
Jagdish Bhagwati is University Professor at Columbia University and External Advisor to the Director General, World Trade Organization and Senior Fellow for International Economics with the Council on Foreign Relations. He was named Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association in 2003.
"The essays in this volume present some of the most recent thinking and evidence on the role of reciprocity in freeing trade. I recommend this book highly to anyone interested in this important and controversial subject."
Robert W. Staiger, Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin
"I know of no other volume that examines this important topic in such a careful and scholarly manner. The work is extremely original and the analysis is very rigorous."
K. C. Fung, Professor, Department of Economics, University of California, Santa Cruz
"This is a pathbreaking work on the common practice of freeing trade unilaterally. Bhagwati and his team comprehensively analyse the relative merits of unilateralism and reciprocity. All future studies of either issue will have to start from where this work leaves it. Bhagwati, who has been the original source of most important developments in the theory of commercial policy, has once again produced a seminal and definitive work.
T. N. Srinivasan, Samuel Park Jr. Professor of Economics, Yale University