International Institutions and Domestic Lobbying Patterns: The WTO and Interest Aggregation in EU and US Trade Policy
What is the impact of the World Trade Organization on lobbying patterns in trade policymaking? Existing explanations focus mainly on economic determinants, like the rise of intra-industry trade. We argue that the international trade institutions of the WTO regime themselves are key for understanding which type of interest aggregation of firm and interest group preferences is likely to arise. We argue that the institutional setting of issue-linkage based trade negotiations creates incentives for firms to work through broad sector-wide lobbying organizations, while judicialized adjudication and enforcement in WTO dispute settlement stimulates de-linkage, leading to product-specific interest aggregation. We demonstrate how these two hypotheses can explain the co-existence of both sector-wide and product-specific lobbying in the contemporary international trade regime. We provide evidence on interest aggregation for US and EU initiated WTO disputes, and on EU and US domestic interest organizations that mobilize during multilateral trade rounds or are present at WTO ministerial conferences.