IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Trade Agreement Embarrassment, Second Version


  • Wilfred J. Ethier

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)


The dominant academic literature about trade agreements maintains that they are only about national terms-of-trade manipulation and not at all about purely political concerns. Non-academic economists, commentators, and diplomats by contrast think that trade agreements are all about political concerns. There are two substantive and important distinctions between the two views. i Practitioners maintain that policymakers care virtually not at all about the terms of trade or about trade-tax revenue ii Practitioners, unlike academics, maintain that trade-agreement negotiations themselves change the underlying political economy. Observation of actual trade policy measures, though not conclusive, suggests that the practitioners are right and that the academics are wrong.

Suggested Citation

  • Wilfred J. Ethier, 2013. "The Trade Agreement Embarrassment, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 13-049, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 02 Sep 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:13-049

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Giovanni Facchini & Johannes Van Biesebroeck & Gerald Willmann, 2006. "Protection for sale with imperfect rent capturing," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 39(3), pages 845-873, August.
    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. Theo Eicher & Thomas Osang, 2002. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1702-1710, December.
    5. Devashish Mitra & Dimitrios D. Thomakos & Mehmet Ulubaşoğlu, 2016. "Can we obtain realistic parameter estimates for the ‘protection for sale’ model?," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Political Economy of Trade Policy Theory, Evidence and Applications, chapter 10, pages 175-198 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    6. Wilfred J. Ethier, 2006. "Selling Protection for Sale," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-014, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Jun 2006.
    7. 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.
    8. Wilfred J. Ethier, 2004. "Political Externalities, Nondiscrimination, and a Multilateral World," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(3), pages 303-320, August.
    9. Donald H. Regan, 2006. "What Are Trade Agreements For? -- Two Conflicting Stories Told by Economists, With a Lesson for Lawyers," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(4), pages 951-988, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:elg:eechap:15325_12 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Multilateralism; Standard Academic Model; Practitioners’ Conventional Wisdom; terms of trade; political economy;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:pen:papers:13-049. 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: (Dolly Guarini). General contact details of provider: .

    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 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.

    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.