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A Political-Economy Theory of Trade Agreements

Author

Listed:
  • Giovanni Maggi
  • Andrés Rodríguez-Clare

Abstract

We present a model where trade agreements are motivated by the desire of governments to commit vis-à-vis domestic lobbies, in addition to standard terms-of-trade externalities. The model predicts that trade liberalization is deeper when capital is more mobile across sectors, and when governments are more politically motivated (provided domestic-commitment motives are strong enough). The model also provides a new rationale for the use of tariff ceilings. In a fully dynamic specification of the model, tariffs are reduced in two stages: an immediate cut and a subsequent gradual reduction, with the speed of liberalization increasing in the degree of capital mobility. (JEL D72, F13)

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:97:y:2007:i:4:p:1374-1406
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.4.1374
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Robert Staiger, 1994. "A Theory of Gradual Trade Liberalization," International Trade 9410003, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 21 Oct 1994.
    2. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1995. "Trade Wars and Trade Talks," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 675-708, August.
    3. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    4. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1981. "Theoretical Considerations on Negotiated Tariff Adjustments," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(1), pages 135-153, March.
    5. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
    6. Zissimos, Ben, 2007. "The GATT and gradualism," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 410-433, April.
    7. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 2001. "Reciprocity, non-discrimination and preferential agreements in the multilateral trading system," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 281-325, June.
    8. Giovanni Maggi & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 1998. "The Value of Trade Agreements in the Presence of Political Pressures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(3), pages 574-601, June.
    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. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1995. "The Politics of Free-Trade Agreements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 667-690, September.
    11. Mitra, Devashish, 2002. "Endogenous political organization and the value of trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 473-485, August.
    12. Giovanni Maggi, 1999. "The Role of Multilateral Institutions in International Trade Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 190-214, March.
    13. Furusawa, Taiji & Lai, Edwin L. -C., 1999. "Adjustment costs and gradual trade liberalization," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 333-361, December.
    14. Staiger, Robert W & Tabellini, Guido, 1987. "Discretionary Trade Policy and Excessive Protection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 823-837, December.
    15. Paola Conconi & Carlo Perroni, 2003. "Self-Enforcing International Agreements and Domestic Policy Credibility," CESifo Working Paper Series 988, CESifo Group Munich.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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