Buthe examines why states delegated regulatory authority in the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, an integral part of the founding treaty of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Buthe argues that, to explain this case of international delegation, principal-agent theory must be complemented by an analysis of cost-benefit calculations of the relevant domestic interest groups. Given these domestic interests, governments decided to institutionalize international cooperation on SPS measures outside of the WTO because they believed that such delegation would minimize the political costs of the loss of policymaking autonomy. Buthe notes, however, that in retrospect it appears that the widespread positive association of international standards with multilateralism and international consensus led many countries to underestimate those autonomy losses. Material and ideational factors thus interacted to shape the definition of national interests and the outcome of international delegation.
The Globalization of Health and Safety Standards: Delegation of Regulatory Authority in the SPS Agreement of the 1994 Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization,
71 Law and Contemporary Problems
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