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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-Hirschman 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~08-08-04.

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Date of creation: 03 Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:geo:guwopa:gueconwpa~08-08-04
Contact details of provider: Postal: Georgetown University Department of Economics Washington, DC 20057-1036
Phone: 202-687-6074
Fax: 202-687-6102
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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. Blonigen, Bruce A. & Bown, Chad P., 2003. "Antidumping and retaliation threats," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 249-273, August.
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  4. Bown, Chad P., 2004. "Trade disputes and the implementation of protection under the GATT: an empirical assessment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 263-294, March.
  5. Rodney Ludema and Ann Maria Mayda, 2008. "Do Countries Free Ride on MFN?," Working Papers gueconwpa~08-08-04, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
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  13. Bombardini, Matilde, 2008. "Firm heterogeneity and lobby participation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 329-348, July.
  14. Leamer, E. & Levingsohn, J., 1994. "International Trade Theory: The Evidence," Working Papers 368, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  15. Horn, Henrik & Mavroidis, Petros C., 2001. "Economic and legal aspects of the Most-Favored-Nation clause," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 233-279, June.
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  17. 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.
  18. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1992. "Protection For Sale," NBER Working Papers 4149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. 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.
  20. John H. Jackson, 1997. "The World Trading System, 2nd Edition: Law and Policy of International Economic Relations," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262600277, June.
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  23. Dixit, Avinash & Olson, Mancur, 2000. "Does voluntary participation undermine the Coase Theorem?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 309-335, June.
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  26. repec:oup:restud:v:74:y:2007:i:3:p:821-855 is not listed on IDEAS
  27. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "Trade Liberalization and the Theory of Endogenous Protection: An Econometric Study of U.S. Import Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 138-60, February.
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  29. 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.
  30. Lim“o, Nuno, 2002. "Are Preferential trade Agreements with Non-trade Objectives a Stumbling Block for Multilateral Liberalization?," Royal Economic Society Annual Conference 2002 129, Royal Economic Society.
  31. Rodney D. Ludema, 1991. "International Trade Bargaining And The Most-Favored-Nation Clause," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(1), pages 1-20, 03.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. Ederington, Josh & McCalman, Phillip, 2003. "Discriminatory tariffs and international negotiations," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 397-424, December.
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