Food Fights over Free Trade

Food Fights over Free Trade: How International Institutions Promote Agricultural Trade Liberalization

Christina L. Davis
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    Food Fights over Free Trade
    Book Description:

    This detailed account of the politics of opening agricultural markets explains how the institutional context of international negotiations alters the balance of interests at the domestic level to favor trade liberalization despite opposition from powerful farm groups. Historically, agriculture stands out as a sector in which countries stubbornly defend domestic programs, and agricultural issues have been the most frequent source of trade disputes in the postwar trading system. While much protection remains, agricultural trade negotiations have resulted in substantial concessions as well as negotiation collapses.Food Fights over Free Tradeshows that the liberalization that has occurred has been due to the role of international institutions.

    Christina Davis examines the past thirty years of U.S. agricultural trade negotiations with Japan and Europe based on statistical analysis of an original dataset, case studies, and in-depth interviews with over one hundred negotiators and politicians. She shows how the use of issue linkage and international law in the negotiation structure transforms narrow interest group politics into a more broad-based decision process that considers the larger stakes of the negotiation. Even when U.S. threats and the spiraling budget costs of agricultural protection have failed to bring policy change, the agenda, rules, and procedures of trade negotiations have often provided the necessary leverage to open Japanese and European markets.

    This book represents a major contribution to understanding the negotiation process, agricultural politics, and the impact of international institutions on domestic politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4139-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)

    Waving banners that proclaimed “Our life is important, our lifestyle is important—so we oppose agricultural liberalization!” Japanese farmers drove thirty-seven tractors through the streets of the Ginza shopping district of downtown Tokyo in November 1989 to protest U.S. demands for rice liberalization. By 1990 their representatives sent politicians petitions signed by nearly ten million supporters who urged the government to reject any increase of agricultural imports. In one instance, seventeen men carried over three hundred cardboard boxes full of petitions to deposit in the Diet members’ office building. One year later, fifty thousand Japanese farmers filled the Tokyo Dome...


    • 2 Framework for Analysis of Negotiations
      (pp. 37-69)

      States intervene in agricultural markets because farmers are an important political constituency whose role in society rallies the sympathy of the general population. To explain why liberalization occurs at all in sensitive agricultural markets, it is necessary to consider what conditions raise the overall costs of continued protection and lower the political costs of liberalizing farm support programs.

      When U.S. officials have concerns about the policy of a trade partner, they often face a choice of multiple strategies for how to negotiate the issue. A legal strategy through GATT dispute mediation involves filing a formal GATT complaint and then relying...

    • 3 Patterns of Agricultural Liberalization
      (pp. 70-112)

      The previous chapter proposed two pathways to liberalization: issue linkage and legal framing. In a comparison of Japanese and EU trade negotiations with those of the United States, this chapter uses statistical analysis to examine evidence from 268 cases of agricultural commodities that were the subject of negotiations during the period from 1970 to 1999. The focus on one sector and two trade partners evaluates how variation in the institutional context of the negotiation influences policy outcomes while controlling for political and economic factors that would be specific to the sector and region.

      The findings confirm that for U.S. negotiations...


    • 4 Farm Politics in Japan
      (pp. 115-134)

      Pursuit of economic efficiency would dictate against a land-scarce and highly industrialized country like Japan devoting resources to sustain its agricultural sector. However, economic efficiency alone rarely determines policy. There are many other social goals, such as support of rural society and a valued social tradition, that justify the choice of Japanese policymakers to protect the agricultural sector. Politics also intrudes on decision making. Mancur Olson’s (1965) argument about collective action explains that those societal interests with the strongest incentives and capacity to organize will form effective pressure groups, and Gary Becker (1983) modeled how competition among pressure groups results...

    • 5 Legal Framing and Quota Policies
      (pp. 135-177)

      This chapter examines an interconnected series of negotiations on agricultural products under quota protection. Spanning two decades and fifteen commodities, the negotiations occupied a central place in U.S.-Japan agricultural talks. The United States tried every tool in the arsenal of trade policies against Japan. Over the course of the negotiations, talks broke down repeatedly, the media speculated on harm to the bilateral relationship, and some Japanese politicians lost office over the issue. Ultimately, achievements in the talks pushed forward the Tokyo Round, yielded a panel ruling that set a major precedent for GATT rules on quota restrictions, and created momentum...

    • 6 Linkages in Comprehensive Negotiations
      (pp. 178-224)

      In 1990 the GATT system seemed on the verge of disaster as differences over agricultural issues threatened to cause the collapse of the Uruguay Round. Stubbornly refusing to consider importing even a grain of rice, Japan stood among the culprits responsible for the problems of the negotiation. At the same time, regional trade areas flourished. Japan along with Australia had taken the lead to establish the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum as a new model for an informal regional association. However, four years later the Uruguay Round was heralded as a success after having produced broad liberalization across sectors, including agriculture....


    • 7 Farm Politics in the European Union
      (pp. 227-253)

      Efforts to open markets encounter stiff resistance when confronting European agricultural trade policies. The nature of policies, the influence of the governments and farm groups backing these policies, and the bias of EU institutions in favor of agricultural interests all contribute to the system supporting the status quo.

      Although the EU traces its roots to a customs union for coal and steel, since the formation of the Common Agricultural Policy in 1962, agriculture as much as industry became the central focus. At its founding, the CAP held promise as the model for future integration. Optimists at the time wrote that...

    • 8 Two Rounds of Negotiating CAP
      (pp. 254-313)

      Reciprocity underlies the bargaining dynamic of GATT trade rounds. Countries exchange concessions for greater trade liberalization of their own protected sectors in order to gain access to markets for their export sectors. In this mercantilist approach, each side tries to give as little access to their own markets as possible while gaining the desired access to overseas markets. For Europe, the Tokyo Round (1973–1979) represented its preferred outcome because its protected agricultural sector escaped with nominal changes while its industrial sector gained the benefits of improved access to world markets. The Uruguay Round (1986–1994), on the other hand,...

    • 9 Battles over Beef
      (pp. 314-342)

      Beginning in 1989, the EC banned hormone-treated beef, in effect excluding U.S. beef from the European market. EC officials declared that consumer health concerns motivated the ban, while U.S. officials insisted that there was no scientific evidence of a health risk and the ban represented a trade barrier motivated by the desire to reduce beef imports. In the first negotiation from 1989 until 1996, the dispute remained a bilateral affair without mediation from GATT. In what was soon labeled the beef war, the United States launched unilateral sanctions against the EC. In the second negotiation from 1996 until 1999, the...


    • 10 Comparative Perspectives
      (pp. 345-366)

      The generous support for the agricultural sector in Japan and Europe represents the classic story of how protection policies develop. Because that most Japanese and European farmers could not compete on international markets without government support, they sought government protection and organized an effective lobby. Wealthy industrial societies like Japan and Europe have been willing and able to pay the cost of supporting a group that holds a valued societal role and electoral power. The interest groups, bureaucrats, and politicians who represent farmers closely cooperate in the policy process and enjoy considerable autonomy. This domestic political dynamic allowed agricultural protection...

    (pp. 367-368)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 369-386)
  14. Index
    (pp. 387-401)