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Abstract

One of the major trade policy problems identified by U.S. interests, including grower groups, traders, and policymakers, is that of pricing transparency. This has been a gnawing issue generally related to the pricing practices of competitor exporting countries with state trading enterprises (STEs). The transparency problem generally refers to the inability to observe rivals' terms of trade (including price, quality, credit, etc.) and is normally associated with commercial exporters competing against STE rivals. The perception being the less transparent competitors (STEs) would have a strategic advantage. A game theory model of bidding competition was developed to simulate the effects of information asymmetry amongst rivals. A Bayes-Nash equilibrium was used to derive equilibrium solutions. Several stylized examples were used to illustrate aspects of competition and to analyze effects on bidding strategies. Results indicate that: 1) anything that reduces uncertainties among rivals would reduce equilibrium bids and prices; 2) bidding situations in which there is less transparency have the effect of increasing bids and prices to buyers, and payoffs to sellers; and 3) increases in the number of rivals have the effect of reducing bids and mitigating the informational advantages of STEs. In all cases, less transparent sellers have an advantage in bidding competition relative to more transparent sellers. That advantage in our stylized case was in the area of 1-2$/mt. However, that advantage is mitigated with an increase in the number of transparent rivals and in the case where more transparent players have acted as agents for an STE and have more information about costs of an STE. Further, cessation of exports under U.S. EEP programs should have decreased the transparency of U.S. firms, increasing their competitiveness in the international grain trade.

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