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The United States is a Small Country in World Trade

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  • Christopher S. P. Magee
  • Stephen P. Magee

Abstract

Despite being the largest country in world trade and thus presumably having high optimal tariffs, the United States has long had low and declining levels of protection. This paradox suggests that the United States is failing to exploit its monopsony power by levying optimal tariffs. Using data on world output and trade flows, we find that the United States is a small country in world trade in that its trade policies have negligible impacts on world prices. In the median manufacturing industry, US tariffs reduce world prices by only 0.12%. United States optimal tariffs are also typically small (3.6% in the median industry) and are lower than existing US tariffs in most industries. It is no puzzle that the United States has been a champion of free trade since the 1930s-the United States, like other small countries, benefits economically from tariff reductions. Copyright © 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher S. P. Magee & Stephen P. Magee, 2008. "The United States is a Small Country in World Trade," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 990-1004, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reviec:v:16:y:2008:i:5:p:990-1004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary Clyde Hufbauer & Kimberly Ann Elliott, 1994. "Measuring the Costs of Protection in the United States," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 77.
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    8. Gros, Daniel, 1987. "A note on the optimal tariff, retaliation and the welfare loss from tariff wars in a framework with intra-industry trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 357-367, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Eddy Bekkers & Joseph Francois, 2014. "Bilateral Exchange Rates and Jobs," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(2), pages 275-298, May.
    2. Barbara Dluhosch & Daniel Horgos, 2013. "(When) Does Tit-for-tat Diplomacy in Trade Policy Pay Off?," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 155-179, February.
    3. Elizaveta Archanskaia & Guillaume Daudin, 2012. "Heterogeneity and the Distance Puzzle," FIW Working Paper series 095, FIW.
    4. Kyle Bagwell & Chad P. Bown & Robert W. Staiger, 2016. "Is the WTO Passé?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 54(4), pages 1125-1231, December.
    5. Kozo Kiyota, 2014. "Industrial Upgrading in a Multiple-cone Heckscher–Ohlin Model: The Flying Geese Patterns of Industrial Development," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 177-193, February.
    6. Opp, Marcus M., 2010. "Tariff wars in the Ricardian Model with a continuum of goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 212-225, March.
    7. Barbara Dluhosch & Stefanie Krause, 2013. "Diversity and the disinterest in trade liberalization: on the prospects of self-enforcing cooperation," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 23(2), pages 455-475, April.
    8. Guillaume Daudin & Elizaveta Archanskaia, 2012. "Heterogeneity and distance puzzle," Working Papers hal-01073683, HAL.
    9. Dluhosch Barbara, 2010. "The Second-Mover Advantage in International Trade Negotiations," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-37, February.
    10. Hong-Ghi Min & Sang-Ook Shin & Judith A. McDonald, 2015. "Income Inequality and the Real Exchange Rate: Linkages and Evidence," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 16(1), pages 115-141, May.
    11. Gundlach, Erich & de Vaal, Albert, 2010. "Look before you leap: the economics of free trade and income redistribution," Kiel Working Papers 1583, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    12. Douglas A. Irwin, 2014. "Tariff Incidence: Evidence from U.S. Sugar Duties, 1890-1930," NBER Working Papers 20635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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