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The Institutional Foundations of Hegemony: Explaining the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934

Stephan Haggard
International Organization
Vol. 42, No. 1, The State and American Foreign Economic Policy (Winter, 1988), pp. 91-119
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2706771
Page Count: 29
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The Institutional Foundations of Hegemony: Explaining the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934
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Abstract

In 1930, Congress approved the infamous Smoot-Hawley tariff, the classic case of pressure-group politics run amok. Four years later, Congress passed the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA), delegating trade policymaking to an internationalist State Department. The dominant theoretical approaches to commercial policy--international structural and domestic coalitional theories--are ill-equipped to explain the institutional changes represented by the RTAA. A more convincing explanation is developed that explores the interests, initiatives, and capacities of state actors. The institutional changes embodied in the RTAA, in turn, had subsequent effects on interest groups as well, changing the incentives to different types of lobbying and even the discourse in which influence attempts took place. The findings suggest limitations on both "weak state" and international systemic arguments and point to a research agenda that pays greater attention to both the determinants and consequences of institutional change.

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