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Politics and Trade Policy

  • Elhanan Helpman

First I describe a number of political economy approaches that have been developed to explain trade policies. All approaches are presented in a unified framework that helps to see the key differences among them. These comparisons revolve around tariff formulas that are predicted by political equilibria. A typical formula explains cross- sectoral variations in rates of protection as well as differences in average rates of protection across countries. Second, I review a set of results that emerge from a new approach to the interaction of international economic relations with domestic politics. Importantly, there are two-way interactions in such systems. They link the formation of trade policies in the international arena with the activities of domestic special interest groups. The use of a framework of this sort is essential for a proper analysis of a host of important problems, such as negotiations about tariff levels or the formation of free trade areas. Recent studies have developed suitable tools for this purpose.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w5309.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5309.

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Date of creation: Oct 1995
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Publication status: published as in D.M. Kneps and K.F.Wallis(eds.), Advances in Economics and Econometrics: Theory and Applications. (New York: Cambridge University Press),1997, pp.19-45
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5309
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  1. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1981. "Theoretical Considerations on Negotiated Tariff Adjustments," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(1), pages 135-53, March.
  2. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1992. "Protection for Sale," Papers 162, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  3. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Trade Wars and Trade Talks," CEPR Discussion Papers 806, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Wolfgang Mayer & Jun Li, 1994. "Interest Groups, Electoral Competition, And Probabilistic Voting For Trade Policies," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 59-77, 03.
  5. Robert C. Feenstra & Jagdish N. Bhagwati, 1982. "Tariff Seeking and the Efficient Tariff," NBER Chapters, in: Import Competition and Response, pages 245-262 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 265-86, April.
  7. Van Long, Ngo & Vousden, Neil, 1991. "Protectionist responses and declining industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 87-103, February.
  8. Avinash Dixit, 1996. "Special-Interest Lobbying and Endogenous Commodity Taxation," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 22(4), pages 375-388, Fall.
  9. 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.
  10. Ronald Findlay & Stanislaw Wellisz, 1982. "Endogenous Tariffs, the Political Economy of Trade Restrictions, and Welfare," NBER Chapters, in: Import Competition and Response, pages 223-244 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
  12. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  13. Hillman, Arye L, 1982. "Declining Industries and Political-Support Protectionist Motives," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 1180-87, December.
  14. Hillman, Arye L & Ursprung, Heinrich W, 1988. "Domestic Politics, Foreign Interests, and International Trade Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 719-45, September.
  15. Putnam, Robert D., 1988. "Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 42(03), pages 427-460, June.
  16. Harry Flam, 1992. "Product Markets and 1992: Full Integration, Large Gains?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 7-30, Fall.
  17. Rodrik, Dani, 1986. "Tariffs, subsidies, and welfare with endogenous policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(3-4), pages 285-299, November.
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