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Foreign Lobbies and US Trade Policy

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  • Kishore Gawande
  • Pravin Krishna
  • Michael J. Robbins

Abstract

In popular discussion much has been made recently of the susceptibility of government policies to lobbying by foreigners. The general presumption has also been that such interactions have a deleterious effect on the home economy. However, it can be argued that, in a trade policy context, bending policy in a direction that would suit foreigners may not in fact be harmful: If the policy outcome absent any lobbying by foreigners is characterized by welfare-reducing trade barriers, lobbying by foreigners may result in reductions in such barriers and raise consumer surplus (and possibly improve welfare). Using a new data set on foreign political activity in the US, this paper investigates the relationship between trade protection and lobbying activity empirically. The approach taken in this paper is primarily a structural one. To model the role of foreign and domestic lobbies in determining trade policy, we develop first a theoretical framework building on the well-known work of Grossman and Helpman (1994); the econometric work that follows is very closely linked to the theory. Our analysis of the data suggests that foreign lobbying activity has significant impact on trade policy - and in the predicted direction: Tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) are both found to be negatively related with foreign lobbying activity. We consider also extended specifications in which we include a large number of additional explanatory variables that have been suggested in the literature as determinants of trade policy (but that emerge from outside of the theoretical structure described above) and confirm the robustness of our findings in this setting.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10205.

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Date of creation: Jan 2004
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Publication status: published as Gawande, Kishore, Pravin Krishna and Michael J. Robbins. "Foreign Lobbies And U.S. Trade Policy," Review of Economics and Statistics, 2006, v88(3,Aug), 563-571.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10205

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  1. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
  2. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
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  4. Kishore Gawande, 1998. "Comparing Theories Of Endogenous Protection: Bayesian Comparison Of Tobit Models Using Gibbs Sampling Output," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 128-140, February.
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  7. Dutt, Pushan & Mitra, Devashish, 2002. "Endogenous trade policy through majority voting: an empirical investigation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 107-133, October.
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  9. Kishore Gawande & Usree Bandyopadhyay, 2000. "Is Protection for Sale? Evidence on the Grossman-Helpman Theory of Endogenous Protection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 139-152, February.
  10. James A. Brander & Paul Krugman, 1983. "A 'Reciprocal Dumping' Model of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 1194, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Bernheim, B Douglas & Whinston, Michael D, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31, February.
  12. Devashish Mitra, 1999. "Endogenous Lobby Formation and Endogenous Protection: A Long-Run Model of Trade Policy Determination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1116-1134, December.
  13. Giovanni Maggi & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, 1999. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1135-1155, December.
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  15. Yoko Sazanami & Shujiro Urata & Hiroki Kawai, 1995. "Measuring the Costs of Protection in Japan," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 32, July.
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