IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/14655.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Policy Choice: Theory and Evidence from Commitment via International Trade Agreements

Author

Listed:
  • Nuno Limão
  • Patricia Tovar

Abstract

Why do governments employ inefficient policies to redistribute income towards special interest groups (SIGs) when more efficient ones are available? To address this puzzle we derive and test predictions for a set of policies where detailed data is available and an efficiency ranking is feasible: tariffs vs. non-tariff barriers (NTBs). In our policy choice model a government bargaining with domestic SIGs can gain by constraining tariffs through international agreements even if this leads to the use of the less efficient NTBs. This generates two key testable predictions (i) there is imperfect policy substitution, i.e. tighter tariff constraints are not fully offset by the higher NTBs they generate and (ii) the decision to commit to constraints depends on the government's bargaining power relative to SIGs. Using detailed data, we confirm that tariff constraints in trade agreements increase the likelihood and restrictiveness of NTBs. We also provide a structural estimate that indicates NTBs are less efficient than the tariffs they imperfectly replace. Moreover, we find parametric and non-parametric evidence that the higher the government bargaining power relative to a SIG the more relaxed the tariff constraint it chooses. This result is stronger for organized industries, which further supports the theory. The main theoretical insights and empirical approach can be applied to other policies to provide additional evidence on inefficient redistribution.

Suggested Citation

  • Nuno Limão & Patricia Tovar, 2009. "Policy Choice: Theory and Evidence from Commitment via International Trade Agreements," NBER Working Papers 14655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14655
    Note: ITI LE PE
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w14655.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kee, Hiau Looi & Nicita, Alessandro & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2006. "Estimating trade restrictiveness indices," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3840, The World Bank.
    2. 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.
    3. John Douglas Wilson, 1990. "Are Efficiency Improvements In Government Transfer Policies Self‐Defeating In Political Equilibrium?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 241-258, November.
    4. Ken Binmore & Ariel Rubinstein & Asher Wolinsky, 1986. "The Nash Bargaining Solution in Economic Modelling," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(2), pages 176-188, Summer.
    5. James E. Anderson, 1988. "The Relative Inefficiency of Quotas," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511789.
    6. Ludema, Rodney D. & Mayda, Anna Maria, 2009. "Do countries free ride on MFN?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 137-150, April.
    7. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    8. Marvel, Howard P & Ray, Edward J, 1983. "The Kennedy Round: Evidence on the Regulation of International Trade in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 190-197, March.
    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. Hiau LooiKee & Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2009. "Estimating Trade Restrictiveness Indices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 172-199, January.
    11. Dixit, Avinash & Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1997. "Common Agency and Coordination: General Theory and Application to Government Policy Making," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(4), pages 752-769, August.
    12. 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.
    13. Ray, Edward John, 1981. "The Determinants of Tariff and Nontariff Trade Restrictions in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(1), pages 105-121, February.
    14. Becker, Gary S & Mulligan, Casey B, 2003. "Deadweight Costs and the Size of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 293-340, October.
    15. 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.
    16. Lionel Fontagné & Friedrich von Kirchbach & Mondher Mimouni, 2001. "A First Assessment of Environment-Related Trade Barriers," Working Papers 2001-10, CEPII research center.
    17. Kreps,David M. & Wallis,Kenneth F. (ed.), 1997. "Advances in Economics and Econometrics: Theory and Applications," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521589833.
    18. Michel Dumont & Glenn Rayp & Peter Willemé, 2006. "Does internationalization affect union bargaining power? An empirical study for five EU countries," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 58(1), pages 77-102, January.
    19. 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.
    20. Devashish Mitra, 2016. "Endogenous political organization and the value of trade agreements," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: The Political Economy of Trade Policy Theory, Evidence and Applications, chapter 2, pages 23-35, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    21. Doiron, Denise J, 1992. "Bargaining Power and Wage-Employment Contracts in a Unionized Industry," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(3), pages 583-606, August.
    22. Falvey, Rodney E & Lloyd, P J, 1991. "Uncertainty and the Choice of Protective Instrument," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(3), pages 463-478, July.
    23. 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.
    24. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios D. Thomakos & Mehmet A. Ulubaşoğlu, 2016. "“Protection For Sale” In A Developing Country: Democracy Vs. Dictatorship," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: The Political Economy of Trade Policy Theory, Evidence and Applications, chapter 9, pages 163-174, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    25. Sübidey Togan, 2005. "Turkey: Trade Policy Review," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(9), pages 1229-1262, September.
    26. 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.
    27. Kreps,David M. & Wallis,Kenneth F. (ed.), 1997. "Advances in Economics and Econometrics: Theory and Applications," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521589819.
    28. Secil Kaya & Yesim Üçdogruk, 2002. "The dynamics of entry and exit in turkish manufacturing industry," ERC Working Papers 0202, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Feb 2002.
    29. Cassing, James H. & Hillman, Arye L., 1985. "Political influence motives and the choice between tariffs and quotas," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3-4), pages 279-290, November.
    30. Veugelers, Reinhilde, 1989. "Wage premia, price-cost margins and bargaining power in Belgian manufacturing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 169-180, January.
    31. Allan Drazen & Nuno Limão, 2008. "A Bargaining Theory Of Inefficient Redistribution Policies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 621-657, May.
    32. Leslie Young & James E. Anderson, 1982. "Risk Aversion and Optimal Trade Restrictions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(2), pages 291-305.
    33. William H. Kaempfer & J. Harold, Jr McClure & Thomas D. Willett, 1989. "Incremental Protection and Efficient Political Choice between Tariffs and Quotas," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 22(2), pages 228-236, May.
    34. Christian Broda & Nuno Limao & David E. Weinstein, 2008. "Optimal Tariffs and Market Power: The Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 2032-2065, December.
    35. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
    36. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-1235, December.
    37. Young, Lealie, 1980. "Tariffs vs . Quotas under Uncertainty: An Extension," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 522-527, June.
    38. Ederington Josh & Minier Jenny, 2006. "Why Tariffs, Not Subsidies? A Search for Stylized Facts," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-34, November.
    39. Rodrik, Dani, 1995. "Political economy of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1457-1494, Elsevier.
    40. 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, July.
    41. Kreps,David M. & Wallis,Kenneth F. (ed.), 1997. "Advances in Economics and Econometrics: Theory and Applications," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521589826.
    42. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-664, August.
    43. 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.
    44. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-491, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Olper, Alessandro, 2017. "The political economy of trade-related regulatory policy: environment and global value chain," Bio-based and Applied Economics Journal, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA), vol. 5(3), February.
    2. Maggi, Giovanni, 2014. "International Trade Agreements," Handbook of International Economics, in: Gopinath, G. & Helpman, . & Rogoff, K. (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 317-390, Elsevier.
    3. Ethier, Wilfred J., 2007. "The theory of trade policy and trade agreements: A critique," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 605-623, September.
    4. Allan Drazen & Nuno Limão, 2008. "A Bargaining Theory Of Inefficient Redistribution Policies," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 621-657, May.
    5. kishore gawande & pravin krishna, 2005. "The Political Economy of Trade Policy: Empirical Approaches," International Trade 0503003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Willmann, Gerald, 2003. "Why Legislators are Protectionists: The Role of Majoritarian Voting in Setting Tariffs," Economics Working Papers 2003-10, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    7. Rodney D. Ludema & Anna Maria Mayda, 2010. "Do Terms-of-Trade Effects Matter for Trade Agreements? Evidence from WTO Countries," Development Working Papers 293, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.
    8. Bown, Chad P., 2014. "Trade policy instruments over time," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6757, The World Bank.
    9. Mohammad Amin, 2004. "Time Inconsistency of Trade Policy and Multilateralism," International Trade 0402002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Allan Drazen & Nuno Limão, 2004. "Government Gains from Self-Restraint: A Bargaining Theory of Inefficient Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 10375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Joseph S Shapiro, 2021. "The Environmental Bias of Trade Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 136(2), pages 831-886.
    12. Johan F.M.Swinnen & Alessandro Olper & Thijs Vandemoortele, 2011. "The Political Economy of Policy Instrument Choice: Theory and Evidence from Agricultural Policies," LICOS Discussion Papers 27911, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    13. Maggi, Giovanni, 2020. "Anti-lobbying gains from international agreements," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 20-34.
    14. Bagwell,Kyle & Bown,Chad P. & Staiger,Robert W. & Bagwell,Kyle & Bown,Chad P. & Staiger,Robert W., 2015. "Is the WTO passe ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7304, The World Bank.
    15. Wilfred J. Ethier & Arye L. Hillman, 2017. "The Politics of International Trade," CESifo Working Paper Series 6456, CESifo.
    16. Facchini, Giovanni & Mayda, Anna Maria & Mishra, Prachi, 2011. "Do interest groups affect US immigration policy?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 114-128, September.
    17. Ralph Ossa, 2011. "A "New Trade" Theory of GATT/WTO Negotiations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(1), pages 122-152.
    18. Christis G. Tombazos, 2003. "Unprotective Tariffs, Ineffective Liberalization, and Other Mysteries: An Investigation of the Endogenous Dimensions of Trade Policy Formation in Australia," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 70(1), pages 49-74, July.
    19. Kyle Bagwell & Chad P. Bown & Robert W. Staiger, 2016. "Is the WTO Passé?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1125-1231, December.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14655. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.