NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Politics and Trade Policy

Elhanan Helpman

NBER Working Paper No. 5309
Issued in October 1995
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ITI

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5309

Published: 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

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