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A robust analysis of trade policy: the chicken and softwood lumber wars

Nathaniel Webb Smith (Department of Economics, Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Virginia, USA)

Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy

ISSN: 2045-2101

Article publication date: 27 September 2022

Issue publication date: 25 October 2022




The paper extends the robust political economy framework to analyze the impact of tariffs on the entrepreneurial market process. It proposes that the unintended consequences of using trade policy to bolster a nation's economy will inevitably prevent an economy from allocating its resources to their highest-valued use. The study aims to expand the robust political economy literature to international trade.


The paper develops a robust analysis of trade policy and illustrates it with two case studies of trade wars: The Chicken War (1963) and the US–Canada softwood lumber disputes (1982-present).


The paper provides theoretical insights into how the entrepreneurial market process is distorted by trade barriers. The case studies show that the theoretical insights have real-world implications that should not be ignored when planning trade policy.


This paper applies a robust political economy framework to international trade.



The author thanks the editor and two anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions that have improved the quality of my work. The author is also grateful for comments provided by Christopher J. Coyne, Rosolino Candela, Donald Boudreaux and Peter Boettke. The financial support of the Institute for Humane Studies and the Mercatus Center are also gratefully acknowledged.


Smith, N.W. (2022), "A robust analysis of trade policy: the chicken and softwood lumber wars", Journal of Entrepreneurship and Public Policy, Vol. 11 No. 2/3, pp. 273-291.



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