Formulas and flexibility in trade negotiations : sensitive agricultural products in the WTO's Doha agenda
AbstractMany trade negotiations involve large cuts in high tariffs, with flexibilities allowing much smaller cuts for an agreed number of politically-sensitive products. The effects of these flexibilities on market access opportunities are difficult to predict, creating particular problems for developing countries in assessing whether to support a proposed agreement. Some widely-used ad hoc approaches to identifying likely sensitive products -- such as the highest-bound-tariff rule -- suggest that the impacts of a limited number of such exceptions on average tariffs and on market access are likely to be minor. This paper uses a rigorous specification based on the apparent objectives of policy makers in setting the pre-negotiation tariff. Applying this approach with detailed data allows the authors to assess the implications of sensitive-product provisions for average agricultural tariffs, economic welfare, and market access under the Doha negotiations. The authors conclude that highest-tariff rules are likely to seriously underestimate the impacts on average tariffs, and that treating even 2 percent of tariff lines as sensitive is likely to have a sharply adverse impact on economic welfare. The impacts on market access are also adverse, but much smaller, perhaps reflecting the mercantilist focus of the negotiating process.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5200.
Date of creation: 01 Feb 2010
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Free Trade; International Trade and Trade Rules; Markets and Market Access; Debt Markets; Trade Policy;
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