Contributions to existing literature

Table of Contents:

This book aims to make several contributions to the international and comparative political economy literature by shedding light on the formation and implementation of social provisions in EU and U.S. PTAs. that is, on their causes and consequences. The current literature, consisting of rather disjointed studies on this subject, has not yet explored this question in a systematic fashion. This study is the first one, to my knowledge, to focus on both the causes and consequences of social standards within a single analytical framework by linking specific PTA design features to agreement outcomes. Furthermore, it explores the implementation of PTAs' social standards, contributing to the nascent literature on PTA implementation reviewed earlier.

Furthermore, as the review of existing literature has revealed, there is a lack of communication between the studies of trade policy-making and PTA design. Scholars need to acknowledge that PTAs are an outcome of the trade policy-making process. Thus, we need a better understanding of this process and the way in which it is responsible for the design of certain agreement features, as well as their outcomes, to fully understand the political economy of PTAs and their role in domestic and international politics. To achieve this, this book brings together two distinct but related bodies of literature, one on trade policy-making and the other on PTAs and their effects, keeping the analytical focus on the design of social standards.

In addition, there is a noted dearth of comparative focus in the trade policy literature, with separate studies devoted to the analysis of either EU or U.S. trade policy-making (Diir 2006; Poletti and De Bièvre 2014), notwithstanding several exceptions (e.g., Conceiçâo-Heldt 2011; Dur 2010; Young 2011). Previous studies focused primarily on explaining the behavior of the EU and the U.S. in multilateral trade negotiations when dealing with social issues (e.g., Kelemen and Vogel 2010); however, the domestic politics of new trade issues after the recent move toward bilateralism in EU and U.S. trade policies have not yet been analyzed in a systematic and comparative fashion. This book attempts to remedy this by providing a comparative study of EU and U.S. foreign economic policy-making, with a special focus on labor and environmental standards in PTAs.

It also contributes to the EU studies literature by uncovering the political process and institutional dynamic of EU trade policy-making regarding social issues. Studies of EU trade policy have been insulated from mainstream IPE literature, and this book fills this gap. Various scholars assert that the EU represents both a "power in trade” and a "power through trade” or “Market Power Europe” (Damro 2012; Meunier and Nicolaidis 2006).8 This study aims to show just what sort of market power or "power in trade” the EU is, comparing and contrasting it with the kind of power the U.S. enjoys in the global economy.

So what?

The questions tackled in this book have broader impact for societal welfare, as they help us better understand trade policies of advanced industrialized countries and their impact on the developing world. This research also has clear policy implications for the EU and U.S., as both try to include social standards in their funire trade agreements. By specifying the policies and instruments that are most likely to succeed and potentially strengthen underrepresented groups in the developing world, such as organized labor and environmental NGOs, this research also advances the academic and policy debate about the fairness of world trade. Understanding the nature and effects of social standards in trade is ever more important as the pace of economic integration accelerates, bringing severe concerns about the race to the bottom, while thousands of workers' lives continue being lost and environmental degradation goes unabated because of the negative side effects of economic globalization.9 The findings of this book also have big implications for dealing with the recent populist backlash against economic globalization across the world for the governments and all the responsible stakeholders interested in rescuing the liberal international order while addressing its imbalances.

Book outline

This book is structured as follows. Chapter 2 provides an overview of EU and U.S. approaches toward social standards in PTAs. Chapter 3 proposes a theoretical framework rooted iu the principal-agent approach and postulates the hypotheses to be tested in the following chapters. It also outlines methodology used to answer the research questions. Chapter 4 explores the politics of social standards in EU trade agreements. Chapter 5 examines the politics of social standards in U.S. trade agreements. Chapter 6 explores the effects of the agreements analyzed in the previous chapters, investigating the process of their implementation. The concluding chapter (7) summarizes the main findings, explores their policy implications, and proposes venues for future research.

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