The Magic Bullet? The RTAA, Institutional Reform, and Trade Liberalization

  title={The Magic Bullet? The RTAA, Institutional Reform, and Trade Liberalization},
  author={Michael J. Hiscox},
  journal={International Organization},
  • M. Hiscox
  • Published 1 September 1999
  • Economics
  • International Organization
The Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA) of 1934 has long been heralded as a simple institutional reform with revolutionary consequences: namely, by changing the trade policymaking process in the United States, the RTAA is held responsible for the dramatic liberalization in U.S. policy beginning in the 1930s and 1940s. This article takes issue with this conventional wisdom. I argue that the standard accounts—which emphasize the importance of delegation for overcoming logrolling in Congress or… 

Tables from this paper

America and the Trade Regime: What Went Wrong?
Abstract The era of American leadership in the multilateral trading regime has ended. This paper argues that this current antipathy to trade is unsurprising: support for US leadership of the regime
America and Trade Liberalization: The Limits of Institutional Reform
Abstract Among scholars, delegation of power to the US president in 1934 is widely believed to have been a necessary requisite for tariff reductions in ensuing years. According to conventional
Congressional Preferences and the Structure of Delegation: Reassessing the Effect of Divided Government on U.S. Trade Policy
We propose a new theory of how domestic preferences and political institutions interact to determine US trade policy outcomes. First, we argue that congressional representatives cater to distinct
Negotiate or Litigate? Effects of WTO Judicial Delegation on U.S. Trade Politics
This article argues that the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization has engaged in substantial lawmaking since its inception and that, in many circumstances, decisions rendered by court-like
The Reaction of Private Interests to the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act
In recent research on the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA), there has been no examination of the reaction of private actors to the RTAA. Did producer groups and investors in 1934 believe
Foreign Discrimination, Protection for Exporters, and U.S. Trade Liberalization
Current research suggests that changes in societal demands or in political institutions propelled the far-reaching reduction of American external trade barriers since the mid-1930s, yet is unable to
House Rules: Institutional Choice and United States Trade Negotiations
  • R. Pahre
  • Economics, Political Science
  • 2004
International bargaining depends not only on the negotiators but also on the domestic political system in which they find themselves. Knowing this, countries often change domestic political
Delegation and Agency Control in European and American Trade Policy
Why have political actors in the European Union and the United States delegated trade policy to one or several agents, and why have they installed concurrent agency control? In this article, our
Cartels, competition, and coalitions: the domestic drivers of international orders
  • Erik Peinert
  • Economics
    Review of International Political Economy
  • 2020
Abstract Most theoretical and empirical accounts of trade politics focus on political conflict among competing private interest groups and over policies between the dichotomy of trade liberalization
Access to Protection: Domestic Institutions and Trade Policy in Democracies
Previous institutional explanations of trade policy have focused on the role of proportional representation on the promotion of free trade. This explanation generates numerous unsolved anomalies and


The institutional foundations of hegemony: explaining the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934
In 1930, Congress approved the highly restrictive Smoot–Hawley tariff, the textbook case of pressure group politics run amok. Four years later, Congress passed the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act
Empowering Exporters: Reciprocity, Delegation, and Collective Action in American Trade Policy
Michael Gilligan argues that the liberalization of trade policy has succeeded because it has been reciprocal with liberalization in other countries solving the collective action problems of
The Institutional Roots of American Trade Policy: Politics, Coalitions, and International Trade
The 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA) changed the structure of the making of U.S. trade policy and made possible a dramatic reduction in tariffs. The authors demonstrate that the key
The political economy of U.S. import policy
Although trade-policy issues are becoming increasingly important, there is little rigorous analysis of the nature of the decision-making process that includes both economic and political factors.
The Tariff Revolution: A Study of Shifting Party Attitudes
  • R. Watson
  • Political Science
    The Journal of Politics
  • 1956
I N MAY OS 1955 THE SENATE extended the Reciprocal Trade Program for three years. Congressional debate on the measure provoked a spate of articles announcing a dramatic development to the public:
Free Trade and Protection in Nineteenth-Century Britain and France Revisited: A Comment on Nye
In a recent article in this JOURNAL, John V. Nye disputed the "conventional wisdom" that Britain was a paragon of free trade and France a practitioner of protection in the nineteenth century.' Nye's
Divided government and U.S. trade policy: theory and evidence
If different parties control the U.S. Congress and White House, the United States may maintain higher import protection than otherwise. This proposition follows from a distributive politics model in
Congress and the Politics of U.S. Foreign Policy
Have we entered an era of the "Imperial Congress"? How and why do members of Congress wield power on foreign policy? Does Congress undermine the national interest when it asserts itself in foreign
American Trade Politics
This is a revised and updated edition of a work on the US trade policy-making system. It examines how that process has enabled the United States to reduce its own import barriers and lead the world