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Middle Power Leadership and Coalition Building: Australia, the Cairns Group, and the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations

Richard A. Higgott and Andrew Fenton Cooper
International Organization
Vol. 44, No. 4 (Autumn, 1990), pp. 589-632
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2706854
Page Count: 44
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Middle Power Leadership and Coalition Building: Australia, the Cairns Group, and the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations
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Abstract

Perhaps the key question of debate among neorealist scholars of international political economy concerns the manner in which cooperation may or may not be secured in the global economic order "after hegemony," a question posed by Robert Keohane. A second broad question of interest to scholars of international politics concerns the manner in which weaker states attempt to influence stronger ones. A conflation of these two questions could cause scholars and practitioners alike to pay closer attention than they have in the past to coalitions of the weak as vehicles for cooperation and regime building in the global political economy. This article offers a case study of one recent exercise in coalition building as an attempt to foster cooperation in a "nonhegemonic" environment. Specifically, it examines the role of the Cairns Group of Fair Trading Nations in its attempts to foster reform in global agricultural trade within the current Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. The Cairns Group is shown to be an atypical, single-issue driven, transregional coalition. Led by Australia, the Group's actions represent an interesting exercise in "middle power" politics in a global economic order whose decision-making processes are increasingly more fragmented and complex and whose major actors need coaxing toward processes of cooperative economic management.

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