Ambiguous protection

Klaus Gründler, Arye L. Hillman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Import regulations are globally the most prevalent form of intervention in international trade. The regulations should, under rules of the WTO, protect consumers and the environment but can be used to protect producers. We investigate the ambiguity of intent of the regulations. We set out a model that when applied empirically suggests, as a benchmark estimate, equal divide between social benefit and producer protection. Inefficiency and distributional effects of the regulations are consistent with producer-protecting trade policy. Country diversity in use of regulations supplements our estimates in suggesting presence of producer-protecting intent. We look at how WTO procedures have allowed producer protection in the guise of social benefit.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102009
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Economy
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This paper was prepared for a special issue of the European Journal of Political Economy in honor of Heinrich Ursprung. Anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments. We have also benefited from the comments of Rajat Acharyya, John Beghin, Cosimo Beverelli, Martin Braml, Wilfred Ethier, Mahdi Ghodsi, Carsten Hefeker, Sugata Marjit, and Eyal Ronen. We also thank for their comments participants in the conference in honor of Heinrich Ursprung in Konstanz in September 2019, the Australasian Public Choice Society conference at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane in December 2019, and the Indian Institute of International Trade in Kolkata in February 2020.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.


  • Environmental protection
  • Non-tariff barriers
  • Protectionism
  • Public safety
  • Regulation
  • World Trade Organization


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