This paper analyzes the effects of the formation of a regional trade agreement on the level and nature of multinational firm activity. We examine aggregate data that captures the response of U.S. multinational firms to the formation of the ASEAN free trade agreement. Observed patterns guide the development of a model in which heterogeneous firms from a source country decide how to serve two foreign markets. Following a reduction in tariffs on trade between the two foreign countries, the model predicts growth in the number of source-country firms engaging in foreign direct investment, growth in the size of affiliates that are active in reforming countries both before and after the tariff reduction, and an increase in the extent to which the sales of affiliates in reforming countries are directed towards other reforming countries. Analysis of firm-level responses to the creation of the ASEAN free trade agreement yields results that are consistent with these predictions.
How do foreign interests influence policy? How are trade policies and the viability of trade agreements affected? What are the welfare implications of such foreign influence? In this paper we develop a model of foreign influence and apply it to the study of optimal tariffs. In a two-country voting model of electoral competition, we allow the incumbent party in each country to take costly actions that probabilistically affect the electoral outcome in the other country. We show that policies end up maximizing a weighted sum of domestic and foreign welfare. Using this formulation we show that foreign influence increases aggregate world welfare when there are no other means of alleviating the externalities that arise from cross-border effects of policies. In contrast, when countries can engage in international agreements, foreign influence can prove harmful as powerful countries may refuse to offer concessions. We also show that power imbalances are particularly detrimental to cooperation when they are positively correlated with economic size.
This paper develops a simple model of international trade with intermediation. We consider an economy with two islands and two types of agents, farmers and traders. Farmers can produce two goods, but to sell these goods in centralized (Walrasian) markets, they need to be matched with a trader, and this entails costly search. In the absence of search frictions, our model reduces to a standard Ricardian model of trade. We use this simple model to contrast the implications of changes in the integration of Walrasian markets, which allow traders from different islands to exchange their goods, and changes in the access to these Walrasian markets, which allow farmers to trade with traders from different islands. We find that intermediation always magnifies the gains from trade under the former type of integration, but leads to more nuanced welfare results under the latter, including the possibility of aggregate losses.