Estimates of trade-related adjustment costs in Syria
The scope and complexity of international trading arrangements in the Middle East, as well as their spotty historical record of success, underscore the urgent need for an adequate understanding of the relative costs and benefits of participation in preferential trading arrangements and, more generally, of changes in the domestic import regimes. This paper seeks to address this problem by providing estimates of the adjustment costs associated with two broad classes of hypothetical trade policy scenarios for Syria: participation in the proposed EU-Syria Association Agreement, and border tax-related changes affecting the domestic import regime. We find that the revenue consequences of the first scenario are likely to be low if an appropriate stepwise implementation of the agreement can be ensured; our analysis of the second scenario suggests that all border taxes can be eliminated, and the number of tariff bands reduced, while ensuring revenue neutrality, if a VAT of a reasonable size is introduced.
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