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Free Trade Agreements and US Foreign Policy

journal contribution
posted on 2015-08-01, 00:00 authored by David HundtDavid Hundt
The United States has completed numerous free trade agreements (FTAs), but the pattern of these agreements defies conventional explanations. Arguments that are based on domestic interests and economic gains cannot explain the comparative under-performance of US trade agreements. The pattern of US trade agreements is also inconsistent with explanations that focus on state power, which depict FTAs as a “reward” for loyal clients. This article finds a better explanation for the pattern of the United States’ FTAs by considering the systemic level of analysis, and in particular the dynamics of the international economic order. It illustrates that strong competition for bilateral trade agreements has resulted in patterns of agreements that the United States cannot easily dominate. This is not to say that the United States has no capacity to finalize trade agreements: the United States remains the world’s most influential nation-state, but the constraints of the international system necessarily limit the degree to which FTAs can serve the interests of US foreign economic policy. The recent evolution of international trade politics, however, indicates that smaller states are comparatively less vulnerable to pressure from great powers, such as the United States.

History

Journal

Pacific focus

Volume

30

Season

August

Pagination

151-172

Location

Inchon, Korea

ISSN

1225-4657

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, Wiley

Issue

2

Publisher

Wiley