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Endogenous Protection in General Equilibrium: estimating political weights in the EU



We examine the political economy underpinnings of import protection in general equilibrium. Starting from a dual theoretical representation of production, trade, and consumption, we map a general representation of the real economy to underlying political processes aka the political support function to derive a general representation of the determinants of import protection. This includes the relatively standard approach of examining the pattern of tariffs in a Grossman-Helpman framework, as well as recent extensions linked to upstream and downstream linkages between sectors. Because we start from a relatively generic general equilibrium model of production, we have an immediate bridge between the theory and general equilibrium-based estimates of the welfare effects and rents generated by tariffs. We therefore follow the development of our generalized theoretical framework by introducing the use of general equilibrium estimates of the direct and indirect marginal impacts of protection at the sector level for econometric estimation of the revealed pattern of policy weights. This GE approach yields direct estimates of political weights based on economic effects, including cross-industry effects. The resulting weights lend insight into relative protection of agriculture and manufacturing. Working with data on the European union, we find that the strength of downstream linkages matters for policy weights and rates of protection, as does the national posture of industry. We also find support for a general political support function in the determination of tariffs, though results are mixed for the more narrow Grossman-Helpman specification. In the EU, nationality of industry seems to play a role in the setting of Community-wide import protection.

Suggested Citation

  • Joseph Francis Francois & Douglas Nelson & Annette Pelkmans-Balaoing, 2008. "Endogenous Protection in General Equilibrium: estimating political weights in the EU," Economics working papers 2008-15, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  • Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2008_15

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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. kishore gawande & pravin krishna, 2005. "The Political Economy of Trade Policy: Empirical Approaches," International Trade 0503003, EconWPA.
    3. Olivier Cadot & Jaime de Melo & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2015. "Lobbying, Counterlobbying, and the Structure of Tariff Protection in Poor and Rich Countries," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: Modeling Developing Countries' Policies in General Equilibrium, chapter 13, pages 295-316 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. 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 138-160, February.
    5. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1995. "The Politics of Free-Trade Agreements," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 667-690, September.
    6. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    7. repec:wsi:wschap:9789814569156_0012 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Finger, J M & Hall, H Keith & Nelson, Douglas R, 1982. "The Political Economy of Administered Protection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 452-466, June.
    9. Jong-Wha Lee & Phillip Swagel, 2000. "Trade Barriers And Trade Flows Across Countries And Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(3), pages 372-382, August.
    10. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios D. Thomakos & Mehmet A. Ulubaşoĝlu, 2016. "Protection Versus Promotion: An Empirical Investigation," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Political Economy of Trade Policy Theory, Evidence and Applications, chapter 12, pages 221-236 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    11. Patrick A. Messerlin, 2001. "Measuring the Costs of Protection in Europe: European Commercial Policy in the 2000s," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 102.
    12. 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.
    13. Gardner, Bruce L, 1987. "Causes of U.S. Farm Commodity Programs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(2), pages 290-310, April.
    14. Anderson, Kym, 1980. "The Political Market for Government Assistance to Australian Manufacturing Industries," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 56(153), pages 132-144, June.
    15. Rod Tyers, 2004. "Implicit Policy Preferences and Trade Reform by Tariff Aggregates," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2004-445, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    16. Antoine Bouët & Yvan Decreux & Lionel Fontagné & Sébastien Jean & David Laborde, 2004. "A Consistent, Ad-Valorem Equivalent Measure of Applied Protection Across the World: The MAcMap-HS6 Database," Working Papers 2004-22, CEPII research center.
    17. Constantopoulos, Maria, 1974. "Labour protection in Western Europe," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 313-328, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bullock, David S., 2012. "Dangers of Using Political Preference Functions in Political Economy Analysis: Examples from U.S. Ethanol Policy," Congress Papers 124118, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA).
    2. Henning, Christian H.C.A. & Struve, Carsten & Brockmeier, Martina, 2008. "The logic of the CAP: Politics or Economics?," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 48639, World Bank.

    More about this item


    political weights; political economy of import protection; Grossman-Helpman model;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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