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Abstract

In recent years the United States has actively begun to engage in the negotiation of bilateral and regional trade agreements, a significant change from its long-standing commitment to the exclusive use of multilateral institutions for trade liberalization. While the "unequal economic power" effects of the strategic use of trade policy are well understood, the long-run implications of the creation of a queue for bilateral negotiations have been less fully explored. It is argued here that queuing creates vested interests that are antipathetic to multilateralism and threaten to erode the value of the WTO's "club good." As a result, the new two-track approach of the United States to trade negotiations may not be a sustainable policy.

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