Multiple Levels of Policy: International, National, State –Or None of the Above?

September 13, 1999 • White Paper

In an age of international commerce, which governments should determine the rules of the game? Municipalities, states, national governments, and international bodies jostle for control over many areas, including

  • taxation of electronic commerce;
  • copyright and trademark issues;
  • mergers and competition;
  • genetically manipulated plants
  • consumer protection.

Too many layers of regulation imposed by different jurisdictions create will stifle innovation around the world. Our understanding of this familiar problem at the state level is driving us rapidly towards federal and international regulatory regimes. But there are drawbacks to federal and international involvement as well. These are less familiar, but can be no less serious.

This paper outlines these problems and offers guidelines towards a long run solution. What is the best policy for an age when jurisdiction not just by every, but by any jurisdiction is very costly? Global markets will generate the greatest benefits for innovation when it is most free of regulation — at all levels.

About the Authors
Daniel Griswold
Former Director, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies