top of page


Credibility of Issue Linkage: How Treaty Recognition Makes Side Agreements Credible 

Studies show that liberalizing governments include social and environmental clauses in trade agreements to gain pro-trade support from activists. However, these studies do not address how the government makes issue linkage credible to activists, who understand that the government has weak incentives to enforce such linkages once the agreement is ratified. How do liberalizing governments make issue linkage credible to activists despite the commitment problem? Focusing on U.S. government decisions regarding environmental clauses in trade agreements, I argue that a liberalizing government uses international treaties to mitigate activists' fears of defection. By recognizing environmental international organizations' authority in trade agreements, the government can mitigate activists' fear of defection and increase their support for trade agreements. Using original data, I find that the government recognized environmental treaties with more ties to U.S.-based activists in designing environmental clauses in trade agreements. Based on a comparative case study, I also show that activists with ties to seven recognized treaties supported issue linkage whereas those without ties to the treaties joined forces with anti-trade groups.

Who Demands Treaty Recognition and Why?: Analyzing Issue Linkage Proposals in the European Parliament 

Why do some legislators demand treaty recognition in designing issue linkages in Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs)? This article examines the conditions under which Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) demand delegation to IOs in designing non-trade clauses in PTAs. Drawing from the European Parliament Archives, I analyze amendments proposed by MEPs in the Committee on International Trade from 2004 to 2014. I argue that MEPs tend to demand treaty recognition to increase the support for their amendments from peer legislators in the committee. Empirically, I show that MEPs are more likely to demand recognition under two circumstances: if they are ideologically farther from the median of the committee, and if their constituencies’ preferences deviate from their party lines. By contrast, I find that ideology per se does not affect delegation proposals: right-leaning MEPs are equally likely to demand treaty recognition as left-leaning MEPs in the committee. However, right-leaning MEPs frame recognition in protectionist terms, whereas left-leaning MEPs tend to highlight the altruistic aspect of treaty recognition. While existing studies view recognition as a strategy to enhance the credibility of international agreements between negotiating parties, this article shows that it can be a political strategy to justify unpopular positions within legislatures.

Conditional Effects of the Spotlight: Electoral Institutions and the Enforcement of Global Corporate Norms. Revise & Resubmit, International Studies Quarterly

Under what conditions do governments discipline powerful multinational companies for breaching global corporate norms? Existing IR theories have shown that peer monitoring and transnational advocacy are crucial strategies that shine a spotlight on norm violations. Despite the importance of those strategies, governments in the Global North have not consistently condemned their home-grown multinational companies for breaking norms related to climate or human rights in the Global South. This paper argues that the effect of such spotlighting is crucially moderated by electoral institutions, and legislators in proportional representation systems are more likely than those in majoritarian systems to push multinational companies to comply with global norms when such issues are in the spotlight. I find supporting evidence from the OECD Guidelines’ Specific Instance process and case studies. This article shows that traditional strategies to promote norm compliance, such as transnational advocacy and peer pressure, work differently in different countries, and electoral systems in the Global North can have unintended distributional consequences for norm beneficiaries.


Environmental issue linkage as an electoral advantage: the case of NAFTA. Review of International Political Economy (2021): 1-28.

Why would some legislators alter their votes on trade agreements in return for environmental side agreements that may be hard to enforce? While numerous studies have examined the effects of side agreements, few have evaluated their impact on legislators’ positions on a trade agreement over time. This paper examines the effects of the environmental side deal attached to NAFTA, with novel time-series survey data that captures the evolution of House members’ positions on NAFTA during discussion and finalization of the environmental side of the free trade agreement. I find that pro-environmental legislators in safe districts tended to withdraw their support for NAFTA once the side deal was agreed upon, whereas those in competitive districts stood their ground and increased their support in the final stage of voting. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I find little evidence that the side deal assuaged legislators in import-competing districts. This article shows how the effectiveness of international institutions is moderated in important ways by electoral considerations. Click here to see the article


Experience, communication, and collective action: financial autonomy and capital market development in East Asia. New Political Economy (2022): 27-5, 731-753. with Yong Wook Lee  

From the creation of the eurozone to the African Financial Markets Initiative, the world has seen the emergence of regional financial institutions in recent decades. East Asia is no exception. ASEAN plus Three (China, Japan, and Korea) has institutionalised the Asian Bond Marked Initiative (ABMI) since 2003. What explains the development of the ABMI? We argue that East Asian states established it as an institutional mechanism for regional financial autonomy constrained by their dependence on Western financial market. In making this argument, we propose an experience-communication analytical framework to systematically investigate the formation of collective economic interests. We show that the analytical framework captures the timing and the content of the institutional evolution of the ABMI with greater precision. To demonstrate our claim, we attempt to make best use of both qualitative process tracing and quantitative collocational analysis for the validity and reliability of our claim. Particular attention is paid to analysing the politics of inclusion and exclusion in membership as ASEAN plus Three states shifted the forum for regional bond market cooperation from the APEC, of which the United States is a member, to the ABMI, which excludes the United States in pursuing regional financial autonomy. Click here to see the article

Does the U.S. Congress Respond to Public Opinion in Trade? American Politics Research (2023). with Michael Pomirchy & Bryan Schonfeld 
Are U.S. legislators responsive to public opinion on trade? Despite the prevalence of preference-based approaches to international trade, not much work has directly assessed the relationship between constituency opinion and positioning by members of Congress on trade bills. We assess dynamic responsiveness (whether shifting constituency opinion on trade yields corresponding changes among legislators) by exploiting an original dataset on the positions of members of Congress on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at various points leading up to the November 1993 roll-call vote. We find no evidence of dynamic responsiveness to shifting constituency opinion on even a highly salient piece of trade legislation. We provide qualitative evidence that interest group influence may instead be the predominant source of shifting legislator positioning on trade.  Click here to see the article


Does Attaching Environmental Issues to Trade Agreements Boost Support for Trade Liberalisation?
In this policy op-ed published by Bruegel, I argue that the omission of environmental issues in the new U.S.-E.U. trade talks may have negative effects on ratification of the new trade deal in the European Parliament. I analyze whether pro-climate individual Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) withheld their support for the streamlined trade talks. To control for their baseline attitudes on issue linkage, I include their stances on the TTIP, which had extensive mandates to negotiate provisions on climate change. All else equal, if an MEP is not supportive of a stronger climate policy, the MEP is predicted to support the trade talks without environmental mandates, with a likelihood of 83%. However, the predicted probability of approval drops to 40% if the MEP supports a stronger climate policy in line with the Paris Agreement. Click here to see the article


Body Politics and Foreign Economic Policy

I am broadly interested in how body politics issues (e.g., race and gender) transform foreign policy outcomes. In a collaborative project with Jongwoo Jeong, we explore how foreign gender norms transform people’s preferences on international economic and security policies. In another project, I study why politicians racialize foreign economic policies. I draw from elite correspondence and internal documents to explore how race affected American and British policymakers’ positions on international trade. 

bottom of page