The Logic of Dispute Initiation under NAFTA Chapter 19


  • Acknowledgements: Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2009 International Studies Association Conference and the 2009 Midwest Political Science Association Conference. I would like to thank Kanisha Bond, Douglas Lemke, Quan Li, Jakana Thomas, Peter Von Doepp, and the editors and several anonymous reviewers of Politics & Policy for their helpful comments on this manuscript.


Focusing on the North American Free Trade Agreement Chapter 19's dispute settlement mechanism, this article examines why industries in one country initiate disputes at the regional level appealing trade policy in another country. I argue that industries take into account both external and internal dynamics when deciding on dispute initiation. As it relates to external factors, I posit that industries are more likely to dispute unfavorable rulings when they perceive that political pressure from interest groups and looming elections in the protectionist country influenced that ruling. With respect to internal considerations, I contend that wealthy and more concentrated industries will be more likely to appeal unfavorable rulings. Empirical analysis support these arguments by showing that appeals are more likely the closer a ruling is to an election in the protected market, the larger and more concentrated the protected industry, and the wealthier and more concentrated the plaintiff industry.

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Related Media

Strom, Stephanie. 2012. “Ammunition for a Trade War between U.S and Mexico.” The New York Times. September 27. Luhnow, David. 2002. “Sugar Dispute with U.S. Turns Saccharine as Mexico Levies Tax on Corn Sweeteners.” The Wall Street Journal. January 14.


Enfocado en el mecanismo de resolución de disputas del capítulo 19 del TLCAN, este artículo examina por qué industrias en un país inician disputas a nivel regional apelando a la política comercial en otro país. Argumento que las industrias toman en cuenta dinámicas internas y externas al decidir sobre el inicio de una disputa. En cuanto a factores externos, sostengo que las industrias son más propensas a disputar sentencias desfavorables cuando éstas perciben que la presión política de grupos de interés y elecciones próximas en el país proteccionista han influenciado la sentencia. Respecto a consideraciones internas, sostengo que las industrias más ricas y concentradas serán más propensas a apelar fallos desfavorables. Análisis empíricos apoyan estos argumentos al mostrar que las apelaciones son más probables mientras más cercana sea la sentencia a una elección en el país proteccionista, mientras más grande y concentrada sea la industria protegida, y mientras más rica y concentrada sea la industria afectada.