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On the Incidence of US Tariffs


  • Don P. Clark
  • Donald Bruce


This paper provides evidence on the incidence of tariffs on products of export interest to developing countries by investigating the relationship between per capita incomes of US trading partners and tariff rates. It constitutes the first attempt to assess the incidence of tariffs imposed by the US on countries that span the entire range of per capita incomes. Average tariff rates are lower for the poorest and richest countries and higher for countries in the middle of the income distribution. This finding is not consistent with the widely held view that tariffs used by industrial nations bear more heavily on products of export interest to poorer developing countries than on imports from industrial nations. It is consistent with the tariff escalation pattern reported in earlier studies if advanced countries account for most products at the high end of the fabrication scale. Results show that poorest countries will find it difficult to escape tariffs by attaining higher levels of economic development. Copyright 2006 The Authors Journal compilation 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd .

Suggested Citation

  • Don P. Clark & Donald Bruce, 2006. "On the Incidence of US Tariffs," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 29(2), pages 123-135, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:29:y:2006:i:2:p:123-135

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Wu, Harry X., 2001. "China's comparative labour productivity performance in manufacturing, 1952-1997: Catching up or falling behind?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 162-189.
    2. Balassa, Bela, 1979. "The Changing Pattern of Comparative Advantage in Manufactured Goods," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 61(2), pages 259-266, May.
    3. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
    4. Ronald W. Jones, 2000. "Globalization and the Theory of Input Trade," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 026210086x, July.
    5. Heston, Alan & Summers, Robert, 1996. "International Price and Quantity Comparisons: Potentials and Pitfalls," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(2), pages 20-24, May.
    6. Raymond Vernon, 1966. "International Investment and International Trade in the Product Cycle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(2), pages 190-207.
    7. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Comparative Advantage, Trade, and Payments in a Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 823-839, December.
    8. Szirmai, Adam & Ruoen, Ren, 2000. "Comparative performance in Chinese manufacturing, 1980-1992," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 16-53.
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    Cited by:

    1. Antimiani, Alessandro & Conforti, Piero & Salvatici, Luca, 2006. "Assessing Market Access: Do Developing Countries Really Get a Preferential Treatment?," Working Papers 18870, TRADEAG - Agricultural Trade Agreements.
    2. Badri Narayanan, G. & Khorana, Sangeetha, 2014. "Tariff escalation, export shares and economy-wide welfare: A computable general equilibrium approach," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 109-118.
    3. Zahrnt, Valentin, 2008. "Domestic constituents and the formulation of WTO negotiating positions: what the delegates say," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 393-421, April.
    4. Alessandro Antimiani & Piero Conforti & Luca Salvatici, 2008. "Measuring Restrictiveness of Bilateral Trade Policies: A Comparison between Developed and Developing Countries," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 144(2), pages 207-224, July.

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