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Protectionism Unchained: Determinants and Consequences of Discretionary Trade Policy in Argentina

Eggers Hall, 341

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The Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs' Trade, Development and Political Economy Series presents Joaquin Blaum, Research Assistant Professor of Economics at Boston University.

Many countries utilize discretionary trade policies—those that target particular firms at particular times. However, since these policies are illegal under WTO rules, our ability to study these episodes has been hampered. In this paper, we study the case of Argentina, a country that in the early 2010s implemented a set of discretionary trade policies that violated WTO. We identify firm and sectoral characteristics associated with higher protection and find that they are consistent with the government's rhetoric of encouraging domestic investment, promoting exports, and protecting domestic producers from import competition. Second, we identify the effects of import restrictions on import quantities and prices. We uncover a new link between high-frequency variation in macroeconomic conditions and the level and structure of trade protection that provides an instrument for quantity restrictions. Surprisingly, the policy backfired through higher import prices. A model of bargaining explains such a result when foreign producers have most of the bargaining power. 

Dr. Blaum is a Research Assistant Professor of Economics at Boston University. Dr. Blaum holds a PhD in Economics from MIT. Originally from Argentina, he obtained a Licenciatura and Masters in Economics from Universidad Torcuato Ditella. Between 2012-21, he worked as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Brown University. His areas of research are international trade and macroeconomics. 


Social Science and Public Policy





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MAX-Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs


Juanita Horan


Contact Juanita Horan to request accommodations