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Dispelling Some Misconceptions about Agricultural Trade Liberalization


  • Stephen Tokarick


There has been a great deal of public discussion over the impact that agricultural trade liberalization would likely have, especially on low-income countries. Unfortunately, the public discussion has been characterized by a number of misconceptions. This paper provides a clarifying discussion of the issues involved. Among the key points addressed are 1) agricultural "subsidies" are not nearly as large as has been portrayed; 2) tariffs are actually far more distortionary than subsidies and some low-income countries actually benefit from rich country subsides; and 3) widespread tariff reductions will not inflict large damage on developing countries as a result of preference erosion. The case for removing agricultural trade barriers remains compelling, even without the exaggerations and misconceptions.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Tokarick, 2008. "Dispelling Some Misconceptions about Agricultural Trade Liberalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 199-216, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:22:y:2008:i:1:p:199-216 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.22.1.199

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kym Anderson & Ernesto Valenzuela, 2007. "The World Trade Organisation's Doha Cotton Initiative: A Tale of Two Issues," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(8), pages 1281-1304, August.
    2. Anderson, Kym & Martin, Will & Valenzuela, Ernesto, 2006. "The relative importance of global agricultural subsidies and market access," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 5(03), pages 357-376, November.
    3. Hans P Lankes & Katerina Alexandraki, 2004. "The Impact of Preference Erosionon Middle-Income Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 04/169, International Monetary Fund.
    4. Diao, Xinshen & Somwaru, Agapi & Roe, Terry L., 2001. "A Global Analysis Of Agricultural Trade Reform In Wto Member Countries," Bulletins 12984, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
    5. Baffes, John, 2004. "Cotton : Market setting, trade policies, and issues," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3218, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rakotoarisoa, Manitra A., 2011. "The impact of agricultural policy distortions on the productivity gap: Evidence from rice production," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 147-157, April.
    2. Jorge Tovar & Eduardo Uribe, 2008. "Reflexiones sobre el crecimiento de largo plazo del sector agrícola en Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 004984, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    3. Abbott, Philip & Bentzen, Jeanet & Tarp, Finn, 2009. "Trade and Development: Lessons from Vietnam's Past Trade Agreements," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 341-353, February.
    4. repec:pid:journl:v:55:y:2016:i:4:p:499-519 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hosaki Kono, 2011. "Economic Integration and Poverty," Chapters,in: The Economics of East Asian Integration, chapter 16 Edward Elgar Publishing.

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