Politics of trade protection in an autocracy: Evidence from an EU tariff liberalization in Morocco

Ferdinand Eibl, Adeel Malik*, Christian Ruckteschler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Although non-tariff measures (NTMs) have surpassed tariffs as the most prevalent instrument of trade protection globally, our knowledge of what drives these NTMs is extremely limited. This paper sheds light on the political determinants of non-tariff protection using a rich empirical setting in Morocco. Taking advantage of a bilateral EU-Morocco trade agreement that resulted in an across-the-board tariff cut and a subsequent rise in NTMs, we use a difference-in-differences regression framework to show that sectors with close prior political connections to the royal family received disproportionately higher levels of non-tariff protection after the EU Agreement than unconnected sectors. We also demonstrate that, in the wake of the EU-induced tariff cut, connected sectors were mainly compensated through technical barriers to trade that depend on administrative oversight and are vulnerable to political influence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102063
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Economy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • Trade liberalisation
  • Crony capitalism
  • Morocco
  • Middle East and North Africa
  • Authoritarianism


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