Why are some autocracies more open to trade than others? And why are autocratic trade policies so volatile? Despite wide variation in how autocracies approach international trade, existing research offers few answers to these questions. We argue that the trade policies of autocratic regimes depend in part on the mode of entry of their leaders. Autocrats can enter power either legally-according to established rules of succession-or extralegally, through a palace revolt or coup. These different modes of entry lead to different posttransition politics and trade policies. Because new extralegal leaders are outsiders with limited resources, they are vulnerable to coups by other ruling elites. They reduce this vulnerability by building public support via lower tariffs. However, as they consolidate their rule, they reverse these initial tariffcuts. Extralegal entries thus lead to foreign economic policies that are more "cooperative" in the short run but more volatile in the long run.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations