Tommy Koh and the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement: A Multifront ‘Negotiation Campaign’

by Laurence A. Green & James K. Sebenius

Overview — Sophisticated international negotiators don't just do a number of separate deals, hoping that they somehow add up to the ultimate result; instead, they design and wage carefully structured "negotiation campaigns." As the USSFTA case illustrates, it is useful in complex, multiparty situations for negotiators to think in terms of multifront campaigns that must combine to generate enough support for ultimate target agreements. The authors of this paper further outline steps involved in orchestrating a successful negotiation campaign.

Author Abstract

Complex, multiparty negotiations are often analyzed as principals negotiating through agents, as two-level games (Putnam 1988), or in coalitional terms. The relatively new concept of a "multi-front negotiation campaign" (Sebenius 2010, Lax and Sebenius 2012) offers an analytic approach that may enjoy descriptive and prescriptive advantages over more traditional approaches that focus on a specific negotiation as the unit of analysis. The efforts of Singapore Ambassador-At-Large Tommy Koh to negotiate the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade agreement serve as an extended case study of a complex, multiparty negotiation that illustrates and further elaborates the concept of a negotiation campaign.

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