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When the Weak Bargain with the Strong: Negotiations in the World Trade Organization

In: International Negotiation
Author:
Peter Drahos
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Abstract

When a developing country negotiates with a large developed country it generally faces the problem of unequal bargaining power. Within the context of trade negotiations, forming coalitions is one natural response to this. However, even in multilateral contexts, the sources of bargaining power still operate to advantage the large developed state and developing states do not always gain strength from numbers. The experience of the Uruguay Round, especially the negotiations over intellectual property rights, suggests that developing countries have to think much more creatively about group life rather than focusing on the institutional reform of the World Trade Organization. Informaland formal groups have different advantages and disadvantages. A more formal structure along the lines proposed in this article would help developing countries to overcome the weaknesses of informal groups, especially the two-track dilemma. Developing countries need groups that encourage communication among themselves, especially in the hard bargaining stages of a trade round. Better communication among developing countries is the basis for making calculative trust more robust and allows for the possibility of forming some level of social identity trust.

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