Reluctant Partners

A History of Multilateral Trade Cooperation, 1850-2000
Andrew G. Brown
Examines how and why nations have succeeded in forming cooperative trade arrangements


With globalization drawing countries closer together, greater international cooperation is essential for peace and stability. The collective arrangement made by governments to manage their trade relations is one of the few clear successes. Reluctant Partners traces the emergence of multilateral trade cooperation since the mid-nineteenth century, exploring the conflicting interests at work. It assesses the substantial progress made in successive postwar rounds of negotiations—especially the Kennedy, Tokyo, and Uruguay rounds—and shows how the narrow perception of reciprocity in the mutual reduction of trade barriers has gradually yielded to a broader evaluation of the ways in which countries benefit from the trade regime as a whole.

Andrew G. Brown demonstrates the increasing importance of rule making—the refinement and extension of common rules and procedures for the conduct of commercial relations—and outlines the diversity of issues on which negotiations have focused, such as customs procedures, technical standards, subsidies, antidumping duties, intellectual property rights, and the treatment of foreign direct investment. Despite the progress, however, the regime has remained vulnerable. Major sources of strain have been evident, including upsurges of protectionist sentiment linked to serious recessions, uneasy relations between the regime and the developing countries, rising interest in regional trading arrangements, and social concerns about conflicts between labor and environmental standards and the trade rules.

A nontechnical book for those curious about the possibilities for cooperation among states, Reluctant Partners should be of interest to both the nonspecialist and the specialist. It draws on more than one discipline to interpret the events lying in the triangle bounded by political science, economics, and history.

Andrew G. Brown is a former Director in the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs at the United Nations, New York. He has also worked as chief economist for the governments of Fiji and Swaziland and as head of the United Nations Planning Team for the government of Zambia. He began his career in the oil and banking industries.

Praise / Awards

  • "Brown gives a panoramic and very readable history of conflict and cooperation in international trade policies. This book will inform both those who applaud and those who criticize the international trading system."
    —Alan Deardorff, John W. Sweetland Professor of International Economics, The University of Michigan
  • "This author has enjoyed an economics career in national and international governments, provides a remarkable overview of several centuries of history of trade cooperation, including firsthand perceptions of the GATT and WTO, all in a pleasantly brief and readable book."
    —John H. Jackson, Georgetown University Law Center
  • ". . . would be very useful for undergraduates in several disciplines. This book fills a void in that it covers the entire period of trade cooperation from 1850 to the present, and it discusses issues important to both the industrialized countries and the developing countries. . . . The breadth of this book will make it useful across several disciplines. . . . Reluctant Partners will serve our students well as an introduction to the issues that animate us."
    —Robert Pahre, World Trade Review

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 208pp.
  • 5 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2003
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11305-7

Add to Cart
  • $89.95 U.S.

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