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Accession Preferences and Bargaining Behavior in the WTO


How does the prospect of adding new members affect bargaining within an international organization? I hypothesize that as states benefit more from adding a potential new member, they become more conciliatory in their bargaining behavior so that other states let the new member in, while states become more aggressive as adding the new member becomes more costly to them so that they can extract concessions for letting in the new member. I test this proposition using Chinese accession to the WTO, using automated text analysis on ministerial statements to assign bargaining postures to WTO member states and comparing this posture to a variety of measures those states’ preferences on Chinese accession. I find no correlation between a state’s position on China’s accession and bargaining behavior while China was applying to join the WTO. I explain why this result might have occurred and then point to directions for future research.

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