This paper studies the value of external commitment to policy reforms in the case of WTO/GATT accessions. The accessions often entail reforms that go beyond narrowly defined trade liberalization, and have to overcome fierce resistance in the acceding countries, as reflected in protracted negotiations. We study the growth and investment consequences of WTO/GATT accessions, with attention to a possible selection bias. We find that the accessions tend to raise income, but only for those countries that were subject to rigorous accession procedures. Policy commitments associated with the accessions were helpful, especially for countries with poor governance.
The final version of this article can be found at the Journal of International Economics.