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Trade Liberalisation with Costly Adjustment



The paper analyses the efficiency and the distributional effects of eliminating a tariff in a protected sector, in a Heckscher-Ohlin model of trade with costs of adjustment. The tariff can be eliminated at the onset or after a while. In case of postponing it the government may pre-announce the policy change or may not do it and surprise the private sector. It is shown that while large adjustment costs reduce the efficiency gains from trade liberalisation, small to moderate adjustment costs may raise the efficiency gains from a pre-announced liberalisation. The adjustment costs reduce the effects on factor returns from a sudden unanticipated liberalisation. The distributional effects of trade liberalisations are more complex when the policy is pre-announced. For small and moderate levels, the adjustment costs may increase the effects of the policy on factor returns. Also, the “value of the announcement” rises with the adjustment costs.

Suggested Citation

  • Alvaro Forteza & Rossana Patrón, 2003. "Trade Liberalisation with Costly Adjustment," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 6, pages 95-125, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:cem:jaecon:v:6:y:2003:n:1:p:95-125

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sebastian Edwards, 1994. "Trade and Industrial Policy Reform in Latin America," NBER Working Papers 4772, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michael Rothschild, 1971. "On the Cost of Adjustment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 85(4), pages 605-622.
    3. Ramon L. Clarete & Irene Trela & John Whalley, 1994. "Evaluating Labour Adjustment Costs from Trade Shocks: Illustrations for the U.S. Economy Using an Applied General Equilibrium Model With Transactions," NBER Working Papers 4628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Karp, Larry & Paul, Thierry, 1994. "Phasing In and Phasing Out Protectionism with Costly Adjustment of Labour," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(427), pages 1379-1392, November.
    5. Albuquerque, Rui & Rebelo, Sergio, 2000. "On the dynamics of trade reform," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 21-47, June.
    6. Guillermo A. Calvo & Enrique G. Mendoza, 1994. "Trade Reforms of Uncertain Duration and Real Uncertainty: A First Approximation," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 41(4), pages 555-586, December.
    7. Daron Acemoglu, 2003. "Patterns of Skill Premia," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 199-230.
    8. Sargent, Thomas J, 1978. "Estimation of Dynamic Labor Demand Schedules under Rational Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(6), pages 1009-1044, December.
    9. Daniel S. Hamermesh & Wolter H. J. Hassink & Jan C. van Ours, 1994. "New Facts About Factor-Demand Dynamics: Employment, Jobs, and Workers," NBER Working Papers 4625, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Leamer, Edward E., 1980. "Welfare computations and the optimal staging of tariff reductions in models with adjustment costs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 21-36, February.
    11. Avinash Dixit, 1992. "Investment and Hysteresis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(1), pages 107-132, Winter.
    12. Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1995. "Labour Demand and the," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 620-634, May.
    13. Falvey, Rod & Kim, Cha Dong, 1992. "Timing and Sequencing Issues in Trade Liberalisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 102(413), pages 908-924, July.
    14. Edwards, Sebastian, 1988. "Terms of Trade, Tariffs, and Labor Market Adjustment in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 2(2), pages 165-185, May.
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    More about this item


    adjustment costs; trade liberalisation;

    JEL classification:

    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations


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