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A Commitment Theory of Subsidy Agreements

Listed author(s):
  • Daniel Brou
  • Michele Ruta

This paper examines the rationale for the rules on domestic subsidies in international trade agreements through a framework that emphasizes commitment. We build a model where the policy-maker has a tariff and a production subsidy at its disposal, taxation can be distortionary and the import-competing sector lobbies the government for favourable policies. The model shows that, under political pressures, the government will turn to subsidies when its ability to provide protection is curtailed by a trade agreement that binds tariffs only. We refer to this as the policy substitution problem. When factors of production are mobile in the long-run but investments are irreversible in the short-run, we show that the government cannot credibly commit vis-Ã -vis the domestic lobby unless the trade agreement also regulates production subsidies, thus addressing the policy substitution problem. Finally, we employ the theory to analyze the Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM) Agreement within the GATT/WTO system.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp3945.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3945.

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Date of creation: 2012
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3945
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  1. 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.
  2. Daniel Brou & Michele Ruta, 2009. "On the Political Substitutability between Tariffs and Subsidies," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 145(IV), pages 405-410, December.
  3. Tang, Man-Keung & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2009. "The value of making commitments externally: Evidence from WTO accessions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 216-229, July.
  4. 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.
  5. Bagwell, Kyle & Staiger, Robert W., 2012. "The economics of trade agreements in the linear Cournot delocation model," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 32-46.
  6. Korinek, Anton & Servén, Luis, 2016. "Undervaluation through foreign reserve accumulation: Static losses, dynamic gains," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 104-136.
  7. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
  8. Michael Spence & Danny Leipziger, 2010. "Globalization and Growth - Implications for a Post-Crisis World : Commission on Growth and Development," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2440, September.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), 2002. "Handbook of Public Economics," Handbook of Public Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 4, number 4.
  14. David De Remer, 2013. "The Evolution of International Subsidy Rules," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2013-45, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  15. Marc Bacchetta & Michele Ruta (ed.), 2011. "The WTO, Subsidies and Countervailing Measures," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 13513.
  16. 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, 07.
  17. A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), 2002. "Handbook of Public Economics," Handbook of Public Economics, Elsevier, edition 1, volume 3, number 3.
  18. 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.
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