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Complementarity and Increasing Returns in Intermediate Inputs: A Theoretical and Applied General-Equilibrium Analysis

  • Florencio Lopez-de-Silane
  • James R. Markusen
  • Thomas F. Rutherford

Conventional analysis in the trade-industrial-organization literature suggests that, when a country has some market power over an imported good, some small level of protection must be welfare improving. This is essentially a terms-of-trade argument that is reinforced if the imported goods are substitutes for domestic goods produced with increasing returns to scale, goods that are initially underproduced in free-trade equilibrium. This paper notes that this result may not hold when (1) the imports are intermediates used in a domestic increasing-returns industry, and/or (2) the intermediates are complements for domestic inputs produced with increasing returns. We then demonstrate such an outcome with respect to Mexican protection against imported auto parts using an applied general-equilibrium model of the North American auto industry.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4179.

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Date of creation: Oct 1992
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "Complementarity and Increasing Returns in Intermediate Inputs" Journal of Development Economics, vol 45, 1994, pp 101-119
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4179
Note: ITI
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  1. Eaton, Jonathan & Grossman, Gene M, 1986. "Optimal Trade and Industrial Policy under Oligopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 383-406, May.
  2. Hertel, Thomas W., 1994. "The 'procompetitive' effects of trade policy reform in a small, open economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(3-4), pages 391-411, May.
  3. Markusen, James R. & Rutherford, Thomas F. & Hunter, Linda, 1995. "Trade liberalization in a multinational-dominated industry," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1-2), pages 95-117, February.
  4. Drusilla Brown, 1989. "Market structure, the exchange rate, and pricing behavior by firms: Some evidence from computable general equilibrium trade models," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 125(3), pages 441-463, September.
  5. James A. Brander & Barbara J. Spencer, 1984. "Export Subsidies and International Market Share Rivalry," NBER Working Papers 1464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Markusen, James R, 1989. "Trade in Producer Services and in Other Specialized Intermediate Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 85-95, March.
  7. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1982. "National and International Returns to Scale in the Modern Theory of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(3), pages 389-405, June.
  8. Markusen, James R., 1990. "Derationalizing tariffs with specialized intermediate inputs and differentiated final goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3-4), pages 375-383, May.
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