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Industrial subsidy policy and the optimal level of specialization

Ram Dubey and Minwook Kang

Economic Modelling, 2020, vol. 91, issue C, 81-88

Abstract: Despite compelling rationale based on the theory of comparative advantage for free trade, many countries adopt restrictive trade practices. In this paper we investigate this puzzle in a stylized two-country two-good Ricardian model of international trade. Governments can offer protection to domestic industries via industrial subsidy policy in this model. We prove the existence of a Nash equilibrium in the two-player game where industries choose the level of specialization. We determine the necessary conditions for complete specialization in (a) the free-trade regime; and (b) the protectionist regime implemented through industrial subsidy policy. Our results show that if the government intends to promote complete specialization, then a high degree of comparative advantage and a large elasticity of substitution between export and import goods are required. Empirical evidence on these two parameters indicate that complete specialization is unlikely to survive in the protectionist regime.

Keywords: Comparative advantage; Complete specialization; Free trade; Industrial subsidy; Protectionism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D50 E60 F20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1016/j.econmod.2020.05.025

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