Over the past decades, the steel industry has been protected by a wide variety of trade policies, both tariff- and quota-based. We exploit this extensive heterogeneity in trade protection to examine the well-established theoretical literature predicting nonequivalent effects of tariffs and quotas on domestic firms’ market power. Robust to a variety of empirical specifications with U.S. Census data on the population of U.S. steel plants from 1967-2002, we find evidence for significant market power effects for binding quota-based protection, but not for tariff-based protection. There is only weak evidence that antidumping protection increases market power.
An interesting follow-up would be to see if this dynamic affects political organization, or if industry groups learn over time to petition for quota-based rather than tariff-based protection.