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Lobbying, innovation and protectionist cycles
Sánchez, Gabriel
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
This paper explains why trade liberalizations occur in developing countries,and why they are often reversed. It does so by focusing on the use oflobbying for protection by import competing firms as a means to postponecostly product quality upgrades to keep up with foreign competitors. Giventhe availability of a political market for import tariffs, domestic firmswill lobby for a sequence of tariffs that insulate domestic profits from awidening quality gap, thereby allowing adjustment to be postponed. But asthe contributions required by the government grow with the size of thequality gap, it will be optimal to adjust quality and to decrease thelobbying effort at some time, leading to liberalization and technologicalcatch-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 oflobbying as a substitute for innovation. The model thus sheds new light onthe impact of the costs of protection on the effectiveness of the lobbyingeffort over time, and on their implications for the timing and the timehorizon of trade reforms in developing countries.
quality ladders
north-south trade
endogenous tariffs
trade liberalization
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