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Extra info for America's Trade Policy Towards Japan: Demanding Results (Routledge Advances in International Political Economy, 11)

Example text

After the war, the US executive took the lead in multilateralising its trade negotiating objectives through the GATT (Dam 1970). 1 Six rounds of GATT negotiations were completed by the end of the 1960s. Especially important were the first, the Geneva Round of 1947, and the last, the Kennedy Round (1963–7). During the former, the United States reduced its tariffs by an average of 20 per cent on all dutiable imports, notable because of the heavy reliance by other countries on quantitative restrictions (Curzon 1965: 70).

Relative decline in American economic power with increasing interdependence with the world economy provides an important, but permissive, systemic reason for America’s shift towards a more aggressive bilateral market opening policy. Two factors restructured the international environment facing American institutions and actors: (1) the erosion of the artificial post-war dominance of American manufacturing industry; and (2) the emergence of new sources of surplus capital in the international economy.

The causal significance of ideas (vis-à-vis interests) remains a topic of intense controversy in the study of politics. The basic premise of this analysis is that the distinction should not be exaggerated Explaining US trade policy 23 as ideas and interests are usually intertwined; a view supported by distinguished scholars in both the rational choice and constructivist traditions (Fiorina 1995: 114; Smith 1995: 137). Interests must be represented and aligned with those of other actors and may be ambiguous, unclear, or internally contradictory.

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