Betting on the Wrong Horse: Lobbying on TPP and the 2016 U.S. presidential election

Betting on the Wrong Horse: Lobbying on TPP and the 2016 U.S. presidential election

Abstract

Recent trade agreements have moved beyond tariff reductions, encompassing provisions and obligations related to non-tariff issues. These aspects are often seen as the reflection of interest groups, able to manipulate and extract additional rents from the ratification of these agreements. We provide empirical evidence that corporate lobbying on trade agreements matters for corporate profits. We use the historical shock to U.S. trade policy – the non-ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – following the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. We find that stock prices of companies that lobbied in favor of the TPP underperformed following the election. On the intensive margin, we find a strong and positive relationship between the amount spent in lobbying and the cumulative losses of lobbying firms. Finally, by comparing the original TPP agreement with its newer version (CPTPP) without U.S. participation, we provide evidence that firms’ lobbying activity was related to having some specific provisions included in the agreement.