Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Trade as a Collective Action Problem

Namasaka, Martin (2015): Trade as a Collective Action Problem.


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This article concerns the question whether free trade can be seen as a collective action problem. More specifically, I investigate whether one key characteristic of collective action is present in the case of trade: a common interest. I argue that while states at an aggregate level might have such a common interest, this does not automatically mean that governments will advance this interest in practice. Whether they will depends on accountability mechanisms within the state. I will show that within various accountability systems, there are reasons why governments will not advance the aggregate state interest. This opens up the floor to a more power-driven perspective on trade. I will first elaborate briefly on how the theory of collective action can be applied to trade and why states should have a common interest in free trade. Secondly, I will investigate why democratic and autocratic regimes respectively, might not advance this common interest. This will lead to my argument of viewing trade from a power perspective.

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