Trade Agreements in the Shadow of Lobbying


This paper presents a model of international trade agreements in which the executive branches of each government negotiate agreements while the legislative branches, subject to political pressure from firms, can disrupt them. Lobbying is in the style of Grossman and Helpman’s ‘Protection for Sale’ model with a new feature: all actors face uncertainty arising from the complexity of the legislative process. I demonstrate that the higher the executives set tariffs in a trade agreement, the less effort lobbies put forth to prevent its ratification. Thus trade agreements act as a domestic political commitment device: executives set relatively high tariffs to discourage lobbying and increase the chance that the agreement will be ratified. The model sheds light on the empirical puzzle surrounding governments’ welfare weights in the Grossman and Helpman model and provides a new explanation for failures to ratify trade agreements.

Review of International Economics, 25, pp. 21-43
Kristy Buzard
Kristy Buzard
Associate Professor of Economics

My current research focuses on the formation and maintenance of international trade agreements, conflict resolution, and innovation. I am particularly interested in the impact of international institutions, government structure and domestic political pressure on the possibilities for cooperation.