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Emerging Powers, Domestic Politics, and wto Dispute Settlement Reform

In: International Negotiation
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As the wto’s Dispute Settlement Body (dsb) gains relevance as a rule-maker in trade governance, understanding the reform negotiations addressing its legal framework becomes increasingly important. This article examines how domestic ideas and interests affect the reform positions of two of the dsb’s most active users, emerging power states Brazil and India. Regarding domestic interests, I draw on the domestic politics and two-level games literatures to argue that the amount and favorability of domestic sectors’ experience with the dsb affects their incentives to lobby during the reform negotiations. Interestingly, this results in countries pursuing liberal interests within negotiations, despite having conflicting domestic interest preferences overall. Regarding domestic ideas, I find evidence that Brazilian and Indian politicians feel accountable to voters in the negotiations, contradicting claims to the contrary in the literature. This highlights the need for more research illustrating links between voters and officials in this context.

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