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Trade Agreements as Endogenously Incomplete Contracts

  • Henrik Horn
  • Giovanni Maggi
  • Robert W. Staiger

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)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.100.1.394
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (March)
Pages: 394-419

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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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  1. 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.
  2. Kyle Bagwell & Robert W. Staiger, 2001. "Domestic Policies, National Sovereignty, And International Economic Institutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 519-562, May.
  3. Maggi, Giovanni & Rodriguez-Clare, Andres, 2005. "A Political-Economy Theory of Trade Agreements," CEPR Discussion Papers 5321, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. 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.
  5. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W, 1990. "A Theory of Managed Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(4), pages 779-95, September.
  6. Horn, Henrik, 2006. "National Treatment in the GATT," Working Paper Series 657, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  7. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Giovanni Maggi, 2003. "International agreements on product standards: an incomplete-contracting theory," Working Papers 229, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  8. 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, 06.
  9. Markusen, James R., 1975. "International externalities and optimal tax structures," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 15-29, February.
  10. 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 S179-204, January.
  11. 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.
  12. Baldwin, Richard, 1987. "Politically realistic objective functions and trade policy PROFs and tariffs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 287-290.
  13. Costinot, Arnaud, 2008. "A Comparative Institutional Analysis of Agreements on Product Standards," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt09f6660d, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  14. Josh Ederington, 2001. "International Coordination of Trade and Domestic Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1580-1593, December.
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