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Retaliation, Bargaining, and the Pursuit of "Free and Fair" Trade

Authors: Koshore Gawande, and Wendy L. Hansen
Winter 1999
International Organization

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That domestic political economic factors are important determinants of a nation's trade barriers has been empirically well established. However, the question of how effective strategically retaliatory trade barriers are in deterring foreign protectionism has received far less systematic empirical attention. In this article we use bilateral nontariff barrier (NTB) data between the United States and five developed partner countries (Japan, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) to systematically examine the effectiveness of strategic retaliation. We employ a simultaneous Tobit model where the home and foreign NTB levels are determined endogenously in a bilateral game. The model provides estimates of deterrence coefficients, that is, the reduction in foreign trade barriers as a result of U.S. retaliation, which we use to characterize the nature of bilateral NTB games. Our hope is that the empirical results presented here, which have realisticthough controversial implications, will inform U.S. trade policy.