The Service Economy: Understanding Sectoral Differences in Patterns of Lobbying for Trade in the U.S.

Lecture by prof. Leonardo Baccini (McGill University, CA)

20/09/2017 – 16u – M.103

About the lecture

Despite the size of the service sector and the growth of service trade, the trade politics literature devotes little attention to these ‘invisibles.’ To better understand the trade policy objectives and political activities of this important sector, we study lobbying filings from the Lobbying Disclosure Act; firms’ formal public positions over trade agreements; and reports from Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs), a unique private-public partnership for the design and implementation of U.S. trade policy. We document for the first time that service firms and associations are highly active in the politics of US trade agreements and, in comparison with goods-producing industries, are much less likely to show evidence of industrial disagreement. We explain the undifferentiated support for trade agreements among U.S. service actors by focusing on the stark U.S. comparative advantage in services, and the country’s relative openness to service imports and investment in comparison with its trade partners. Service firms have little to lose from reciprocal trade agreements, and much to gain. The service sector is therefore a key player in the U.S. pro-trade coalition, in part explaining the present era of wide open global integration despite tough times for less competitive U.S. manufacturing industries.

About the speaker
Leonardo Baccini (PhD, Trinity College Dublin) is an assistant professor in the department of Political Science at McGill University. Before joining McGill University, he was an assistant professor at the London School of Economics and a research fellow at Princeton University and New York University. His research interests are in the area of international political economy and comparative political economy. He is the author of Cutting the Gordian Knot of Economic Reform: How International Institutions Promote Liberalization (Oxford University Press, 2014) and of several articles published or forthcoming in leading journals.  Information on his publications and working papers can be found at

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