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Do Countries Free Ride on MFN?

The Most-Favored Nation (MFN) clause has long been suspected of creating a free rider problem in multilateral trade negotiations. To address this issue, we model multilateral negotiations as a mechanism design problem with voluntary participation. We show that an optimal mechanism induces only the largest exporters to participate in negotiations over any product, thus providing a rationalization for the Principal supplier rule. We also show that, through this channel, equilibrium tariffs vary according to the Herfindahl index of export shares: higher concentration in a sector reduces free riding and thus causes a lower tariff. Estimation of our model using sector-level tariff data for the U.S. provides strong support for this relationship.

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Paper provided by Georgetown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number gueconwpa~05-05-13.

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Date of creation: 13 May 2005
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Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~05-05-13
Contact details of provider: Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
Web page: http://econ.georgetown.edu/
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Order Information: Postal: Roger Lagunoff Professor of Economics Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
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  1. Choi, Jay Pil, 1995. "Optimal tariffs and the choice of technology Discriminatory tariffs vs. the 'Most Favored Nation' clause," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1-2), pages 143-160, February.
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  13. Cebi, Pinar & Ludema, Rodney, 2002. "The Rise and Fall of the Most-Favored-Nation Clause," Working Papers 15853, United States International Trade Commission, Office of Economics.
  14. Rodney Ludema (Georgetown University) and Anna Maria Mayda (Georgetown University and CEPR), 2005. "Do Countries Free Ride on MFN?," Working Papers gueconwpa~05-05-13, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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  27. Dixit, Avinash & Olson, Mancur, 2000. "Does voluntary participation undermine the Coase Theorem?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 309-335, June.
  28. Baybars Karacaovali & Nuno Limao, 2005. "The Clash Of Liberalizations: Preferential Vs. Multilateral Trade Liberalization In The European Union," International Trade and Finance Association Conference Papers 1037, International Trade and Finance Association.
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