Export Bans are Ineffective and Bad for Governance: Evidence from the Indian Antiquities Market
This policy brief argues that export bans are often ineffective in achieving their stated aims. The reason is that producers have a clear economic incentive to bypass the law, and continue to sell their product overseas. Export bans therefore tend to foster illegal transactions, which are a mixed bag from an economic point of view. On the one hand, they undercut the ban itself, which is usually a good thing in terms of efficiency. However, many of the countries imposing export bans already have weak governance environments, and encouraging further informality undermines the rule of law even further. Export bans are therefore both economically and socially undesirable. This column demonstrates these two points using the example of India’s long-standing ban on the export of antiquities.