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Harmonization versus Mutual Recognition: Some pitfalls for the coordination of product standards under imperfect competition

Jan Jørgensen and Philipp Schröder

No 23/2014, Discussion Papers of Business and Economics from University of Southern Denmark, Department of Business and Economics

Abstract: The present paper examines trade liberalization driven by the coordination of product standards. For oligopolistic firms situated in separate markets that are initially sheltered by national standards, mutual recognition of standards implies entry and reduced profits at home paired with the opportunity to start export sales. In contrast, harmonization, in particular the prospect that one's own national (but not the foreign) standard becomes the only globally accepted standard, opens the foreign market without balancing entry at home. We study these scenarios in a reduced form lobby game with two countries and three firms, where firms first lobby for the policy coordination regime (harmonization versus mutual recognition), and subsequently, in case of harmonization, the global standard is auctioned among the firms. We discuss welfare effects and conclude with policy implications. In particular, harmonized standards may fail to harvest the full pro-competitive effects from trade liberalization compared to mutual recognition; moreover, the issue is most pronounced in markets featuring price competition.

Keywords: Standard regimes; harmonization; technical trade barriers; NTBs; Cournot competition; Bertrand competition (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F12 F13 F15 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-bec, nep-com and nep-int
Date: 2014-12-21
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