DP7926 Protection for Free? The Political Economy of U.S. Tariff Suspensions
This paper studies the political influence of individual firms on Congressional decisions to suspend tariffs on U.S. imports of intermediate goods. We develop a model in which firms influence the government by transmitting information about the value of protection, via costless messages (cheap-talk) and costly messages (lobbying). We estimate our model using firm-level data on tariff suspension bills and lobbying expenditures from 1999-2006, and find that indeed verbal opposition by import-competing firms, with no lobbying, significantly reduces the probability of a suspension being granted. In addition, lobbying expenditures by proponent and opponent firms sway this probability in opposite directions.