Curious Inconsistencies: An Empirical Examination of the Ratification of Bilateral Investment Treaties and Preferential Trade Agreements
Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 14 Nov 2012
Date Written: 2011
The United States signs both Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) with other nations to help increase access to markets and secure lower production costs. Although both of these types of treaties are integral to the pursuit of those goals, there has been an asymmetry in the attention paid to efforts to put these treaties into effect. The ratification of PTAs has drawn fierce political opposition and has also been the subject of a robust academic literature. In contrast, the ratification of BITs has drawn hardly any political opposition and has been almost entirely ignored by scholars. Surprisingly, however, PTAs pass Congress almost immediately while BITs languish for years. This paper first outlines why it is surprising that BITs have such long delays in Congress and then goes on to estimate a series of cox proportionate hazard models to show that this discrepancy cannot be explained by political factors or the countries we choose to sign BITs with alone.
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