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The Politics of Free Trade Agreements


  • Gene M. Grossman
  • Elhanan Helpman


Suppose that an opportunity arises for two countries to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA). Will an FTA between these countries be politically viable? And if so, what form will it take? We address these questions using a political-economy framework that emphasizes the interaction between industry special interest groups and an incumbent government. We describe the economic conditions necessary for an FTA to be an equilibrium outcome, both for the case when the agreement must cover all bilateral trade and when a few, politically sensitive sectors can be excluded from the agreement.

Suggested Citation

  • Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1993. "The Politics of Free Trade Agreements," NBER Working Papers 4597, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4597
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Anne O. Krueger, 1993. "Free Trade Agreements as Protectionist Devices: Rules of Origin," NBER Working Papers 4352, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Hirschman,Albert O., 1981. "Essays in Trespassing," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521282437, May.
    5. B. Douglas Bernheim & Michael D. Whinston, 1986. "Menu Auctions, Resource Allocation, and Economic Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 1-31.
    6. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-850, September.
    7. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Peleg, Bezalel & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria I. Concepts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-12, June.
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    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration


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