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Giovanni Maggi Publications

Publish Date
American Economic Review

We examine international regulatory agreements that are negotiated under lobbying pressures from producer groups. The way in which lobbying influences the cooperative setting of regulatory policies, as well as the welfare impacts of international agreements, depend crucially on whether the interests of producers in different countries are aligned or in conflict. The former situation tends to occur for product standards, while the latter tends to occur for process standards. We find that, if producer lobbies are strong enough, agreements on product standards lead to excessive deregulation and decrease welfare, while agreements on process standards tighten regulations and enhance welfare.


We provide a simple but novel model of trade agreements that highlights the role of transaction costs, renegotiation and dispute settlement. The model allows us to characterize the appropriate remedy for breach and whether the agreement should be structured as a system of “property rights” or “liability rules.” We then study how the optimal rules depend on the underlying economic and contracting environment. Our model also delivers predictions about the outcome of trade disputes, and in particular about the propensity of countries to settle early versus “fighting it out.”