'International commitments pay' could be the mantra of the current literature on international organisations: tying their hands at the international level is a means for governments to push through politically costly, but ultimately welfare-enhancing reforms. It is argued in this article that this logic has a limit, which can be empirically observed. Past a given point, further depth of integration increases odds of backsliding. This belief is tested in the context of accession to an institution whose rules have been heavily scrutinised: the World Trade Organization (WTO). Countries with low rule of law are imposed a risk premium in the form of demands for deeper concessions, making 'over-committing' possible. This relationship is used to assess the extent to which deeper commitments lead to backsliding. Industry-level analysis supports these beliefs: deep commitments lead to increased odds of backtracking through a range of legal and extra-legal mechanisms. Ambitious international commitments can backfire.
- International trade
- Interstate cooperation
- World Trade Organization
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science