Anti-trade Bias in Trade Policy and General Equilibrium

Nuno Limão

Arvind Panagariya

University of Maryland
 July 2003


An important question that has continued to elude trade economists is why trade interventions are biased in favor of import-competing rather than exportable sectors.  Indeed, as Philip Levy (1999) points out, under a set of neutrality assumptions, the dominant political-economy model, Grossman and Helpman (1994), predicts a pro-trade bias.  We demonstrate that if we replace the almost partial equilibrium model with a general equilibrium model in the Grossman-Helpman political economy model, anti-trade bias may emerge even if we assume symmetric technologies, endowments and preferences across sectors provided that the elasticity of substitution in production exceeds unity.  In addition, we show that ceteris paribus, in general equilibrium increases in the imports-to-GDP ratio lower the endogenously chosen tariff and the production share of the import sector in GDP has an ambiguous effect.

JEL: F1.

Keywords: trade policy; anti-trade bias.