The Politics of Industrial Policy: Post-Workshop Report

Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Stephanie Rickard and Helen Milner

November 2023

In response to a series of global economic and geopolitical shocks, many governments have enacted, or are considering enacting, policies to promote the development and growth of industries deemed strategically important. These actions have raised questions about the role of government in markets and revived debates over industrial policy. Industrial policies can attract foreign investment and encourage the development of new technologies. At the same time, however, these policies can also create tensions with trading partners and decrease economic cooperation. Subsidy wars among countries can be very expensive. And industrial policies can be captured by firms and turned into inefficient rents. In light of these varied outcomes, what explains the recent rise in industrial policies? Why do some governments use industrial policies more often than others? What consequences do industrial policies have for politics and economics - both at home and abroad? How does geopolitical competition and conflict affect the use and choice of industrial policies? Can industrial policy help address climate change?

These questions and more were addressed at a conference hosted by Princeton University in Washington DC on October 25-26, 2023. The conference included 4 sessions, 12 papers and a Roundtable. This summary record has been prepared by the conference co-organizers, Stephanie Rickard and Helen Milner. It is not a formal record and does not bind participants in any way.