Suspiciously timed trade disputes

Paola Conconi, David R. DeRemer, Georg Kirchsteiger, Lorenzo Trimarchi, Maurizio Zanardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper shows that electoral incentives crucially affect the initiation of trade disputes. Focusing on WTO disputes filed by the United States during the 1995–2014 period, we find that U.S. presidents are more likely to initiate a dispute in the year preceding their re-election. Moreover, U.S. trade disputes are more likely to involve industries that are important in swing states. To explain these regularities, we develop a theoretical model in which re-election motives can lead an incumbent politician to file trade disputes to appeal to voters motivated by reciprocity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-76
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Elections
  • Reciprocity
  • Trade disputes


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