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Distributing the Gains from Trade With Incomplete Information

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  • Robert Feenstra
  • Tracy R. Lewis

Abstract

We argue that the incomplete information which the government has about domestic agents means that tariffs become an optimal instrument to protect them from import competition. We solve for the optimal government policies. subject to the political constraint of ensuring Pareto gains from trade, the incentive compatibility constraint, and the government's budget constraint. We find that the optimal policies take the form of nonlinear tariffs, so that both buyers and sellers of the import face an effective price which exceeds its world level. We find that the tariffs are never complete, in the sense of bringing prices (or all individuals back to their initial level. Rather, it will always be possible to make some individuals strictly better off than at the initial prices, while ensuring that no persons are worse off.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 3277.

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Date of creation: Mar 1990
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Publication status: published as Economics and Politics, 3(1) March 1991, pp. 21-39
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:3277

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  1. Lewis, Tracy R. & Feenstra, Robert & Ware, Roger, 1989. "Eliminating price supports : A political economy perspective," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 159-185, November.
  2. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
  3. Cassing, James H. & Hillman, Arye L., 1985. "Political influence motives and the choice between tariffs and quotas," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 279-290, November.
  4. Feenstra, Robert C & Lewis, Tracy R, 1991. "Negotiated Trade Restrictions with Private Political Pressure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1287-307, November.
  5. Robert C. Feenstra & Jagdish N. Bhagwati, 1982. "Tariff Seeking and the Efficient Tariff," NBER Chapters, in: Import Competition and Response, pages 245-262 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Feenstra, Robert C. & Lewis, Tracy R., 1994. "Trade adjustment assistance and Pareto gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3-4), pages 201-222, May.
  2. Matthew F. Mitchell & Andrea Moro, 2006. "Persistent Distortionary Policies with Asymmetric Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 387-393, March.
  3. Dani Rodrik, 1994. "What Does the Political Economy Literature on Trade Policy (Not) Tell UsThat We Ought To Know?," NBER Working Papers 4870, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Thierry Verdier, 2005. "Intégration commerciale « socialement responsable » : une approche en termes d'économie politique," Revue d’économie du développement, De Boeck Université, vol. 19(4), pages 55-121.
  5. Margarita Katsimi & Thomas Moutos, 2005. "Inequality and Relative Reliance on Tariffs: Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 1457, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Limao, Nuno & Panagariya, Arvind, 2007. "Inequality and endogenous trade policy outcomes," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 292-309, July.
  7. Andrea Moro & Matthew F. Mitchell, 2005. "Informationally Efficient Trade Barriers," Public Economics 0503004, EconWPA.

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