American Economic Review: Vol. 97 No. 4 (September 2007)


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A Political-Economy Theory of Trade Agreements

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Maggi, Giovanni, and Andrés Rodríguez-Clare. 2007. "A Political-Economy Theory of Trade Agreements." American Economic Review, 97(4): 1374-1406.

DOI: 10.1257/aer.97.4.1374


We present a model where trade agreements are motivated by the desire of governments to commit vis-à-vis domestic lobbies, in addition to standard terms-of-trade externalities. The model predicts that trade liberalization is deeper when capital is more mobile across sectors, and when governments are more politically motivated (provided domestic-commitment motives are strong enough). The model also provides a new rationale for the use of tariff ceilings. In a fully dynamic specification of the model, tariffs are reduced in two stages: an immediate cut and a subsequent gradual reduction, with the speed of liberalization increasing in the degree of capital mobility. (JEL D72, F13)

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Maggi, Giovanni
Rodríguez-Clare, Andrés

American Economic Review

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