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date: 22 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Many studies explain why trade policy varies between democracies and autocracies and among democracies themselves. In contrast, little is known about why trade policies vary across autocracies. This chapter considers four factors that might help explain such variation: economic structure, coalition size, time horizons, and the leader’s mode of entry into power. It concludes that although all four factors help explain autocratic trade policy, research on this topic remains largely an extension of earlier work on democracies and regime type. Although this is a natural starting point, a complete understanding of autocratic trade policy will require more attention to factors that are unique to autocracies. This will require scholars to build on basic research on authoritarian politics, just as research on democratic trade policy built on earlier work on comparative electoral institutions.

Keywords: trade, trade policy, autocracies, regime type, political institutions, authoritarian politics

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