IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/inecon/v85y2011i2p186-205.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Policy choice: Theory and evidence from commitment via international trade agreements

Author

Listed:
  • Limão, Nuno
  • Tovar, Patricia

Abstract

Why do governments employ inefficient policies when more efficient ones are available for the same purpose? We address this puzzle in the context of redistribution toward special interest groups (SIGs) by focusing on a set of important policies: tariffs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs). In our policy choice model a government can gain by committing to constrain tariffs through international agreements even if this leads to the use of less efficient NTBs; commitment has political value because it improves the bargaining position of a government that is weak relative to domestic SIGs. Using detailed data we find support for several of the model's predictions including: (i) tariff commitments in trade agreements increase the likelihood and restrictiveness of NTBs but not enough to offset the original tariff reductions; (ii) tariff commitments are more likely to be adopted and more stringent when the government is weaker relative to a SIG. Thus, the results can explain the use of inefficient policies for redistribution and suggest that the bargaining motive is an important source of the political value of commitment in international agreements.

Suggested Citation

  • Limão, Nuno & Tovar, Patricia, 2011. "Policy choice: Theory and evidence from commitment via international trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 186-205.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:85:y:2011:i:2:p:186-205
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2011.06.002
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022199611000730
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1016/j.jinteco.2011.06.002?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kishore Gawande & Usree Bandyopadhyay, 2000. "Is Protection for Sale? Evidence on the Grossman-Helpman Theory of Endogenous Protection," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 139-152, February.
    2. Hiau LooiKee & Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2009. "Estimating Trade Restrictiveness Indices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 172-199, January.
    3. 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.
    4. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    5. 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.
    6. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
    7. John Douglas Wilson, 1990. "Are Efficiency Improvements In Government Transfer Policies Self‐Defeating In Political Equilibrium?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 241-258, November.
    8. Ken Binmore & Ariel Rubinstein & Asher Wolinsky, 1986. "The Nash Bargaining Solution in Economic Modelling," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(2), pages 176-188, Summer.
    9. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios D. Thomakos & Mehmet A. Ulubaşoğlu, 2016. "“Protection For Sale” In A Developing Country: Democracy Vs. Dictatorship," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: The Political Economy of Trade Policy Theory, Evidence and Applications, chapter 9, pages 163-174, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    10. Sübidey Togan, 2005. "Turkey: Trade Policy Review," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(9), pages 1229-1262, September.
    11. 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.
    12. Michel Dumont & Glenn Rayp & Peter Willemé, 2006. "Does internationalization affect union bargaining power? An empirical study for five EU countries," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 77-102, January.
    13. 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.
    14. Young, Lealie, 1980. "Tariffs vs . Quotas under Uncertainty: An Extension," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 522-527, June.
    15. Secil Kaya & Yesim Üçdogruk, 2002. "The dynamics of entry and exit in turkish manufacturing industry," ERC Working Papers 0202, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Feb 2002.
    16. 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.
    17. Veugelers, Reinhilde, 1989. "Wage premia, price-cost margins and bargaining power in Belgian manufacturing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 169-180, January.
    18. Ederington Josh & Minier Jenny, 2006. "Why Tariffs, Not Subsidies? A Search for Stylized Facts," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-34, November.
    19. James E. Anderson, 1988. "The Relative Inefficiency of Quotas," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511789.
    20. Ludema, Rodney D. & Mayda, Anna Maria, 2009. "Do countries free ride on MFN?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 137-150, April.
    21. 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.
    22. Dixit, Avinash & Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1997. "Common Agency and Coordination: General Theory and Application to Government Policy Making," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 752-769, August.
    23. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
    24. Marvel, Howard P & Ray, Edward J, 1983. "The Kennedy Round: Evidence on the Regulation of International Trade in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 190-197, March.
    25. Giovanni Maggi & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, 1999. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1135-1155, December.
    26. Allan Drazen & Nuno Limão, 2008. "A Bargaining Theory Of Inefficient Redistribution Policies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 621-657, May.
    27. Ray, Edward John, 1981. "The Determinants of Tariff and Nontariff Trade Restrictions in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(1), pages 105-121, February.
    28. Rodrik, Dani, 1995. "Political economy of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1457-1494, Elsevier.
    29. Leslie Young & James E. Anderson, 1982. "Risk Aversion and Optimal Trade Restrictions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(2), pages 291-305.
    30. Mitra, Devashish, 2002. "Endogenous political organization and the value of trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 473-485, August.
    31. R. W. Staiger & G. Tabellini, 1999. "Do Gatt Rules Help Governments Make Domestic Commitments?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(2), pages 109-144, July.
    32. Doiron, Denise J, 1992. "Bargaining Power and Wage-Employment Contracts in a Unionized Industry," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 583-606, August.
    33. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-664, August.
    34. Falvey, Rodney E & Lloyd, P J, 1991. "Uncertainty and the Choice of Protective Instrument," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(3), pages 463-478, July.
    35. William H. Kaempfer & J. Harold, Jr McClure & Thomas D. Willett, 1989. "Incremental Protection and Efficient Political Choice between Tariffs and Quotas," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 22(2), pages 228-236, May.
    36. 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.
    37. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
    38. Christian Broda & Nuno Limao & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Optimal Tariffs and Market Power: The Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2032-2065, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Maggi, Giovanni, 2014. "International Trade Agreements," Handbook of International Economics, in: Gopinath, G. & Helpman, . & Rogoff, K. (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 317-390, Elsevier.
    2. Maggi, Giovanni, 2020. "Anti-lobbying gains from international agreements," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 20-34.
    3. Kyle Bagwell & Chad P. Bown & Robert W. Staiger, 2016. "Is the WTO Passé?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1125-1231, December.
    4. Mohammad Amin, 2004. "Time Inconsistency of Trade Policy and Multilateralism," International Trade 0402002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Ralph Ossa, 2011. "A "New Trade" Theory of GATT/WTO Negotiations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 122-152.
    6. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2014. "Policymakers' horizon and trade reforms: The protectionist effect of elections," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 102-118.
    7. Bown, Chad P., 2014. "Trade policy instruments over time," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6757, The World Bank.
    8. Olper, Alessandro, 2017. "The political economy of trade-related regulatory policy: environment and global value chain," Bio-based and Applied Economics Journal, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA), vol. 5(3), February.
    9. Grossman, Gene, 2016. "The Purpose of Trade Agreements," CEPR Discussion Papers 11151, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Tovar, Patricia, 2011. "Lobbying costs and trade policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 126-136, March.
    11. Nuno Limão, 2016. "Preferential Trade Agreements," NBER Working Papers 22138, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Brou Daniel & Ruta Michele, 2013. "A Commitment Theory of Subsidy Agreements," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 239-270, January.
    13. Cole, Matthew T. & Lake, James & Zissimos, Ben, 2021. "Contesting an international trade agreement," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 128(C).
    14. Antràs, Pol & Padró i Miquel, Gerard, 2011. "Foreign influence and welfare," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 135-148, July.
    15. Ethier, Wilfred J., 2007. "The theory of trade policy and trade agreements: A critique," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 605-623, September.
    16. Matschke, Xenia, 2008. "Costly revenue-raising and the case for favoring import-competing industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 143-157, January.
    17. Wilfred J. Ethier, 2006. "Selling Protection for Sale," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-014, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Jun 2006.
    18. Allan Drazen & Nuno Limão, 2004. "Government Gains from Self-Restraint: A Bargaining Theory of Inefficient Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 10375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Willmann, Gerald, 2003. "Why Legislators are Protectionists: The Role of Majoritarian Voting in Setting Tariffs," Economics Working Papers 2003-10, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    20. David De Remer, 2013. "The Evolution of International Subsidy Rules," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2013-45, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Commitment; International agreements; Trade; Tariff; Non-tariff barrier; Political economy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F5 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:85:y:2011:i:2:p:186-205. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Catherine Liu (email available below). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505552 .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.