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Trade Agreements as Endogenously Incomplete Contracts

Author

Listed:
  • Henrik Horn
  • Giovanni Maggi
  • Robert W. Staiger

Abstract

We propose a model of trade agreements in which contracting is costly, and as a consequence the optimal agreement may be incomplete. In spite of its simplicity, the model yields rich predictions on the structure of the optimal trade agreement and how this depends on the fundamentals of the contracting environment. We argue that taking contracting costs explicitly into account can help explain a number of key features of real trade agreements. (JEL D86, F13)

Suggested Citation

  • Henrik Horn & Giovanni Maggi & Robert W. Staiger, 2010. "Trade Agreements as Endogenously Incomplete Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 394-419, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:1:p:394-419
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.1.394
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Costinot, Arnaud, 2008. "A comparative institutional analysis of agreements on product standards," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 197-213, May.
    2. Josh Ederington, 2001. "International Coordination of Trade and Domestic Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1580-1593, December.
    3. Giovanni Maggi & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2007. "A Political-Economy Theory of Trade Agreements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1374-1406, September.
    4. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2001. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty, and International Economic Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 519-562.
    5. Henrik Horn, 2006. "National Treatment in the GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 394-404, March.
    6. Brian R. Copeland, 1990. "Strategic Interaction among Nations: Negotiable and Non-negotiable Trade Barriers," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(1), pages 84-108, February.
    7. Schwartz, Warren F & Sykes, Alan O, 2002. "The Economic Structure of Renegotiation and Dispute Resolution in the World Trade Organization," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 179-204, January.
    8. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W, 1990. "A Theory of Managed Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 779-795, September.
    9. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2004. "Enforcement, Private Political Pressure and the GATT/WTO Escape Clause," NBER Working Papers 10987, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2002. "Rigidity, Discretion, and the Costs of Writing Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 798-817, September.
    11. Baldwin, Richard, 1987. "Politically realistic objective functions and trade policy PROFs and tariffs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 287-290.
    12. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2003. "International agreements on product standard: an incomplete contracting theory," NBER Working Papers 9533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Markusen, James R., 1975. "International externalities and optimal tax structures," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 15-29, February.
    14. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2005. "Enforcement, Private Political Pressure, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization Escape Clause," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 471-513, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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