Oil Discoveries and Protectionism

Dec 2019 | 895

Authors: Rick Van der Ploeg Fidel Perez-Sebastian, Ohad Raveh


Can oil discovery shocks affect the demand for protectionism? A two-period model of Dutch disease indicates that if the tradable sector is politically dominant then an oil discovery induces protectionism. If the economy is also credit constrained, this effect is intensified upon discovery, but partially reversed when oil revenues start to flow. We test these predictions using detailed bilateral tariff data that cover 96 products in 155 countries over the period 1988-2012, and worldwide discoveries of giant oil and gas fields. Our identification strategy rests on the exogeneity of the timing of discoveries. We find that an oil discovery increases tariffs during pre-production years and decreases tariffs in the years to follow yet to a lesser extent, most notably in capital scarce economies with a relatively dominant tradable sector. Our baseline estimates indicate that a giant oil field discovery induces a rise of approximately 15% in the average tariff over the course of 10 years; this increase is about 1.8 times larger during the pre¬production period when the oil discovery represents a pure news shock.

JEL Codes: Q32, F13, O24

Keywords: Oil discoveries, protectionism, capital scarcity, Dutch disease, political economy, trade policy, news shocks


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