Domestic debates about trade have increased the salience of international economic cooperation among the public, raising the question of whether, and how, domestic support can be rallied in support of international trade agreements. We argue that institutional features of trade agreements provide important cues to domestic audiences that shape support, particularly the membership composition and voting rules for multilateral deals. We use two survey experiments to show that the US public is more supportive of trade when it is negotiated with like-minded countries. We also find that the voting rules shape support for trade agreements, but differently across partisan audiences. Republican voters strongly favor the home country having veto power, though this effect has diminished throughout President Trump's tenure, and Democrats prefer agreements with equal voting rules. These differences are largely driven by perceptions of the agreements benefit for the nation and the publics trust of the negotiators. [PDF]
-- Journal of Conflict Resolution. First view: doi.org/10.1177/00220027221085072. April 14, 2022.
-- Forthcoming at Journal of European Public Policy
Closing the Institutional Gap: Protecting Technology in Foreign Direct Investment
How does foreign direct investment (FDI) affect a state's domestic property protection regime and rule of law? Existing literature argues that foreign investors seek outside institutional guarantees to substitute for weak property protection in host countries. I argue that this external option is limited, especially for intangible components of foreign direct investment. I theorize that multinational corporations (MNCs) can seek property protection through host country domestic institutions rather than bypassing them, even in countries with relatively weak rule of law. Using cross national data on research and development investments, I find that foreign technology investment flows positively affect domestic institutions for intellectual property protection, thereby contributing to better rule of law in host countries. Further, I theorize that MNCs employ political strategies that engage with both home and host governments to influence host country institutional development through a two-level bargaining process. I illustrate the logics of the two mechanisms through a case study of General Electric's expansion in China and data on the United State Trade Representative's annual watch list on intellectual property practices in foreign countries.
-- GWU-CIBER Best Paper on Emerging Markets Award, Finalist
How do new politicians distribute government resources in regimes with no electoral considerations? We argue that when the payoffs are not immediately clear in a low information environment, politicians use heuristics to make decisions that minimize political risks. We propose that for new local politicians, firm ownership types serve as a useful source of informational shortcuts to evaluating political importance, and this decision making process benefits state-owned firms. Using firm-level subsidies data in China combined with leadership turnover data at the provincial level from 2007 to 2015, we find that new provincial governors, immediately after taking office, distribute a significantly smaller proportion of subsidies to private firms relative to state-owned enterprises. The effect gradually attenuates as new governors understand local conditions and establish connections with local private firms. This strategy also proves to be politically effective, with governors who adopt such a strategy more likely to be promoted at the end of their tenure. [SSRN]
-- R&R at Political Science Research and Methods
US Corporations and Extraterritorial Intellectual Property Regulation
When and how do governments choose to pursue extraterritorial policies? I argue that government preferences for extraterritorial regulation come from domestic corporations that compete in global markets. I outline an argument where business groups strategically engage in informational lobbying to shape government policies and governments are most responsive to the groups' information provision when they receive consistent signals, and when they come from strategically important actors. I test the theory by examining public comments submitted to the Special 301 annual review of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in the United States. I find that consistency of information provision across business interests – repeated mentions of specific countries that violate IPR standards – is associated with increased likelihood of being targeted by the US Trade Representative (USTR). The degree to which business group preferences are incorporated into USTR policy, as measured by textual similarity between public submissions and the USTR final report, is conditional on the economic and strategic importance of business groups to US innovation. The evidence also shows that counter-lobbying by foreigner governments does not decrease the likelihood of being targeted by the USTR.
Who Harmonizes?: Bilateral regimes and multilateral underpinnings
Regulatory harmonization across countries is often motivated by multilateral and unilateral sources of pressure. Yet relatively few empirical studies have disentangled these concurrent dynamics and distinguished their regulatory effects. I posit that different channels for regulatory convergence can either compound or counteract the effects of one another. I use a newly collected measure of country compliance with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) and combine it with measures of bilateral engagement on IP to test my hypotheses. I find that despite frequent engagement, bilateral engagement by the United States Trade Representative is less likely to achieve regulatory changes in foreign countries after an average country complies with TRIPS requirements. Using the Generalized Synthetic Control (GSC) method, I estimate that for countries that are TRIPS compliant and targeted by the US, they are on average 4.9% less likely than other countries to reform their IP laws consistent with US interests. My findings reveal that legitimacy of unilateral pressure can diminish after pressure from multilateral regimes is lifted, thereby shedding light on conditions that determine the policy space for bilateral engagement and demands.