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Do Countries Free Ride on MFN?

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Abstract

The Most-Favored Nation (MFN) clause has long been suspected of creating a free rider problem in multilateral trade negotiations. To address this issue, we model multilateral negotiations as a mechanism design problem with voluntary participation. We show that an optimal mechanism induces only the largest exporters to participate in negotiations over any product, thus providing a rationalization for the Principal supplier rule. We also show that, through this channel, equilibrium tariffs vary according to the Herfindahl-Hirschman index of export shares: higher concentration in a sector reduces free riding and thus causes a lower tariff. Estimation of our model using sector-level tariff data for the U.S. provides strong support for this relationship. Classification-JEL Codes:

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~08-08-04.

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Date of creation: 03 Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~08-08-04

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Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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Web page: http://econ.georgetown.edu/

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Postal: Marcia Suss Administrative Officer Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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Web: http://econ.georgetown.edu/

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Limão, Nuno & Saggi, Kamal, 2013. "Size inequality, coordination externalities and international trade agreements," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 10-27.
  2. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2004. "Backward stealing and forward manipulation in the WTO," Discussion Papers 0405-06, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  3. Limão, Nuno & Tovar, Patricia, 2011. "Policy choice: Theory and evidence from commitment via international trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 186-205.
  4. Rodney D. Ludema & Anna Maria Mayda, 2010. "Do Terms-of-Trade Effects Matter for Trade Agreements? Evidence from WTO Countries," Development Working Papers 293, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  5. repec:van:wpaper:13-00002 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Joanne Gowa & Raymond Hicks, 2012. "The most-favored nation rule in principle and practice: Discrimination in the GATT," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 7(3), pages 247-266, September.
  7. Rodney D. Ludema & Anna Maria Mayda, 2008. "Do Countries Free Ride on MFN?," Development Working Papers 254, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  8. Ludema, Rodney D & Mayda, Anna Maria & Mishra, Prachi, 2010. "Protection for Free? The Political Economy of U.S. Tariff Suspensions," CEPR Discussion Papers 7926, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Spearot, Alan C., 2013. "Variable demand elasticities and tariff liberalization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 26-41.
  10. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2009. "The WTO: Theory and Practice," NBER Working Papers 15445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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