DP2340 Is The Use Of The WTO Dispute Settlement System Biased?

Author(s): Henrik Horn, Petros C Mavroidis, Håkan Nordström
Publication Date: December 1999
Keyword(s): Dispute Settlement, WTO
JEL(s): F02, F13, K33
Programme Areas: International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=2340

The larger trading nations have been the main users of the WTO Dispute Settlement system during its first four years of existence (1995-1998). This has prompted a debate about whether the DS system is biased against smaller and poorer countries, for example, because of a lack of legal capacities and retaliatory power. This paper shows that a simple model in which countries bring disputes proportionally to the diversity and value of exports explains fairly well the dispute pattern. Differences in legal capacities appear to play some role, while 'power' considerations do not seem to matter.