In This Review

Why Adjudicate?: Enforcing Trade Rules in the WTO
Why Adjudicate?: Enforcing Trade Rules in the WTO
By Christina L. Davis
Princeton University Press, 2012, 344 pp

The creation during the past two decades of a formal mechanism for settling trade disputes at the World Trade Organization represents a positive, if quiet, development in the global economy. Davis examines the circumstances that lead countries to choose the expensive and time-consuming effort of taking a dispute to the WTO, as opposed to resolving matters through bilateral negotiations. She analyzes complaints made by 81 countries, focusing in detail on the United States, which has registered the largest number of complaints (followed by the European Union, Canada, and Brazil), and on Japan, the world’s second-largest national economy during the period Davis studied. Two cases get particular attention: the dispute over whether Boeing and Airbus have received unfair or illegal subsidies from the U.S. and European governments and Japan’s numerous complaints about U.S. antidumping tariffs, especially on steel products. Davis finds that in democracies, public and legislative pressures play an important role in the decision to file a complaint and that taking a case to the WTO tends to defuse domestic political pressures by signaling that the government takes the dispute seriously.