Conflict and integration : an examination of a selection of lumber trade conflicts in North America and Europe




Lei, Cecilia.

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In a world that is moving at a feverish pace toward regional economic integration, much has yet to be understood about the process. In particular, research that delineates key factors in preventing, mitigating or resolving trade conflicts that arise between integration partners is in want. In the hope of contributing to filling this academic vacuum, this paper compares conflicts in different integration frameworks in North America and Europe. The cases are the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute, an anti-dumping case involving the Nordic countries, a state aid conflict in Germany, and conflicts over export and import restrictions in the Slovak Republic and Poland respectively. Information on these cases was obtained from primary and secondary sources, as well as from interviews with officials in key stakeholder groups. These cases are assessed using variables of analysis familiar to integration theorists, namely, actors, mechanisms, and motivations. It is found that subnational actors were more likely than national or supranational actors to instigate and escalate conflicts. It is also found that the accessibility of multiple dispute resolution processes to actors at multiple levels were important in preventing, mitigating and resolving conflicts. From these findings, it is concluded that the multi-level governance theory of integration is better suited to explain the outcome than neofunctionalism or intergovernmentalism. These findings have significant implications for the management of relationships in integration frameworks.