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A Political-Economy Theory of Trade Agreements

  • Maggi, Giovanni
  • Rodriguez-Clare, Andres

We develop a model where trade agreements - in addition to correcting terms-of-trade externalities - help governments to commit vis-a-vis domestic industrial lobbies. We explore how trade liberalization is affected by the characteristics of the political environment, such as the degree to which governments are politically motivated and the influence of lobbies during the negotiation of the agreement. We find that governments may prefer to commit to tariff ceilings, rather than exact tariff levels. We also find that trade liberalization is deeper when capital is more mobile across sectors. In a dynamic extension of the model, the optimal agreement entails an immediate slashing of tariffs followed by a phase of gradual trade liberalization. In the gradual phase, the speed of liberalization is higher when capital is more mobile.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5321.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5321
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  1. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  2. 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.
  3. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1993. "The Politics of Free Trade Agreements," NBER Working Papers 4597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Bagwell,K. & Staiger,R.W., 2004. "Enforcement, private political pressure and the GATT/WTO escape clause," Working papers 23, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  5. 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.
  6. repec:van:wpaper:0619 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Mitra, Devashish, 2002. "Endogenous political organization and the value of trade agreements," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 473-485, August.
  8. Maggi, G & Rodriguez-Clare, A, 1996. "The Value of Trade Agreements in the Presence of Political Pressures," Papers 180, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  9. Paola Conconi & Carlo Perroni, 2003. "Self-Enforcing International Agreements and Domestic Policy Credibility," CESifo Working Paper Series 988, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. Ben Zissimos & Ben Lockwood, 2004. "The GATT and Gradualism," Econometric Society 2004 North American Summer Meetings 607, Econometric Society.
  11. 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.
  12. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-50, September.
  13. Staiger, R.W., 1994. "A Theory of Gradual Trade Liberalization," Working papers 9405, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  14. Pravin Krishna, . "Regionalism and Multilaterialism: A Political Economy Approach," Working Papers 96-5, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  15. Staiger, Robert W & Tabellini, Guido, 1987. "Discretionary Trade Policy and Excessive Protection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(5), pages 823-37, December.
  16. 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.
  17. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1981. "Theoretical Considerations on Negotiated Tariff Adjustments," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(1), pages 135-53, March.
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