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Import Peneteration and the Politics of Trade Protection

  • Giovanni Maggi
  • Andres Rodriguez-Clare

In this paper we reconsider a key empirical prediction generated by an important class of political-economy models of trade policy, namely that trade protection should be higher in sectors characterized by lower import penetration (we call this the little support for this prediction. In this paper we argue that the standard prediction depends critically on the assumptions that trade taxes are the only policy instruments and that the government has access to non-distortionary taxation. We analyze a model in which the government can use quotas and VERs in addition to trade taxes and raising public funds may be costly. Under a simple sufficient condition, our model predicts that the protection level increases with import penetration, both in sectors that are protected with tariffs and in sectors that are protected with quantitative restrictions.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 6711.

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Date of creation: Aug 1998
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Publication status: published as Maggi, Giovanni and Andres Rodriguez-Clare. "Import Penetration And The Politics Of Trade Protection," Journal of International Economics, 2000, v51(2,Aug), 287-304.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6711
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  1. Levy, Philip I., 1999. "Lobbying and international cooperation in tariff setting," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 345-370, April.
  2. Grossman, Gene & Helpman, Elhanan, 1993. "Protection for Sale," CEPR Discussion Papers 827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Bagwell, K. & Staiger, R.W., 1996. "Reciprocal Trade Liberalization," Working papers 9602, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
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  5. Mayer, Wolfgang & Riezman, Raymond G., 1987. "Endogenous choice of trade policy instruments," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 377-381, November.
  6. Robert C. Feenstra, 1992. "How Costly Is Protectionism?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-178, Summer.
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  8. 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 132-44, June.
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  10. Feenstra, Robert C & Lewis, Tracy R, 1991. "Negotiated Trade Restrictions with Private Political Pressure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 106(4), pages 1287-307, November.
  11. J. Michael Finger & Ann Harrison, 1994. "The MFA Paradox: More Protection and More Trade?," NBER Working Papers 4751, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Rosendorff, B Peter, 1996. "Voluntary Export Restraints, Antidumping Procedure, and Domestic Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 544-61, June.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Jong-Wha Lee & Phillip Swagel, 1994. "Trade Barriers and Trade Flows across Countries and Industries," NBER Working Papers 4799, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
  17. 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 138-60, February.
  18. 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.
  19. Borrell, Brent & Maw-Cheng Yang, 1992. "EC Bananarama 1992 : the sequel - the EC Commission proposal," Policy Research Working Paper Series 958, The World Bank.
  20. Baldwin, Richard, 1987. "Politically realistic objective functions and trade policy PROFs and tariffs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 287-290.
  21. 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.
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