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An analysis of the ambiguous welfare effects of parallel trade freedom

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  • Mueller-Langer, Frank

Abstract

The regulation of parallel trade has become a critical issue in the global trading system, as the welfare effects of parallel trade freedom are generally ambiguous. In this paper we investigate the welfare effects of parallel trade freedom for low, intermediate, and high trade costs and different levels of market size. By analyzing a game played between a domestic monopolistic manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and a foreign exclusive distributor we, first, show that parallel trade reduces the profit of the manufacturer and his incentives to invest in R&D. In addition to this first finding, we show, secondly, that the question as to whether parallel trade freedom has positive or negative welfare properties depends on the level of trade cost and the heterogeneity of countries in terms of market size. In particular, we find that parallel trade freedom has a positive effect on global welfare if countries are sufficiently heterogeneous in terms of market size and if trade costs are intermediate and low, respectively. Surprisingly, this result even holds in a situation where parallel trade freedom implies the closure of the smaller market. If, however, countries are virtually homogenous in terms of market size, parallel trade freedom may be detrimental to global welfare for specific levels of trade costs.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 35704.

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Date of creation: 10 Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:35704

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Keywords: Parallel Trade; Welfare Effects; Pharmaceuticals; Intellectual Property Rights;

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  1. Brekke, Kurt R. & Grasdal, Astrid L. & Holmås, Tor Helge, 2006. "Regulation and Pricing of Pharmaceuticals: Reference Pricing or Price Cap Regulation?," Working Papers in Economics 14/06, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  2. Li, Changying & Maskus, Keith E., 2006. "The impact of parallel imports on investments in cost-reducing research and development," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 443-455, March.
  3. Gene M. Grossman & Edwin L.-C. Lai, 2008. "Parallel imports and price controls," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 378-402.
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  15. Malueg, David A. & Schwartz, Marius, 1994. "Parallel imports, demand dispersion, and international price discrimination," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3-4), pages 167-195, November.
  16. Szymanski, Stefan & Valletti, Tommaso, 2005. "Parallel Trade, International Exhaustion and Intellectual Property Rights: A Welfare Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 5022, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. Gallini, Nancy T. & Hollis, Aidan, 1999. "A contractual approach to the gray market," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 1-21, March.
  18. Maskus, Keith E. & Yongmin Chen, 2000. "Vertical price control and parallel imports - theory and evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2461, The World Bank.
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  20. Gene M. Grossman & Edwin C.-L. Lai, 2006. "Parallel Imports and Price Controls," NBER Working Papers 12423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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