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Lobbying, innovation and protectionist cycles

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  • Gabriel Sánchez

Abstract

This paper explains why trade liberalizations occur in developing countries, and why they are often reversed. It does so by focusing on the use of lobbying for protection by import competing firms as a means to postpone costly product quality upgrades to keep up with foreign competitors. Given the availability of a political market for import tariffs, domestic firms will lobby for a sequence of tariffs that insulate domestic profits from a widening quality gap, thereby allowing adjustment to be postponed. But as the contributions required by the government grow with the size of the quality gap, it will be optimal to adjust quality and to decrease the lobbying effort at some time, leading to liberalization and technological catch-up. But then the equilibrium tariff will again be small and "cheap", and it will pay to start lobbying anew, until the next quality adjustment. Therefore, cycles in protection will occur as a result of the use of lobbying as a substitute for innovation. The model thus sheds new light on the impact of the costs of protection on the effectiveness of the lobbying effort over time, and on their implications for the timing and the time horizon of trade reforms in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriel Sánchez, 1998. "Lobbying, innovation and protectionist cycles," Economics Working Papers 272, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:272
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    File URL: https://econ-papers.upf.edu/papers/272.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Marcel Vaillant, 1998. "Endogenous number of lobby groups in a specific factor trade model," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 0198, Department of Economics - dECON.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Quality ladders; north-south trade; imitation; endogenous tariffs; lobbying; trade liberalization; cycles;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation

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