Designing The Multilateral Trading System: Voting Equality At The International Trade Organization

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World Trade Review


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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Cambridge University Press