Neo-classical economic theory shows that managed trade or protectionism is (almost) always welfare decreasing. However, measurements of the welfare costs of protectionism based on neo-classical models seem to suggest that these costs are quite small. We discuss general new insights and developments in the theory, policy and empiricism of international trade. The observation that intra-industry trade and the services sector are important has led to a shift in theory away from constant returns to scale and perfect competition towards economies of scale and scope, externalities, market imperfections, and imperfect competition. Although this, in principle, opens the door to beneficial government intervention in the economic process, we emphasize that the true costs of protection can potentially be much higher than is generally acknowledged as a result of the above mentioned shift.

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De Economist
Erasmus School of Economics

Brakman, S., & van Marrewijk, C. (1996). Trade policy under imperfect competition: The economics of Russian roulette. De Economist, 223–258. doi:10.1007/BF01681902