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The Mercantilist Index of Trade Policy

  • James E. Anderson
  • J. Peter Neary

We introduce an index of trade policy restrictiveness defined as the uniform tariff that maintains the same trade volume as a given tariff/quota structure. Our index overcomes the problems of the trade-weighted average tariff: It avoids substitution bias, correctly accounts for general equilibrium transfers, and takes import volume instead of welfare as benchmark. Empirical applications to international cross section and time-series comparisons of trade policy confirm our theoretical results: Trade-weighted average tariffs generally underestimate the true height of tariffs as measured by the trade-volume-equivalent index; this in turn always underestimates the welfare-equivalent index. Copyright 2003 By The Economics Department Of The University Of Pennsylvania And Osaka University Institute Of Social And Economic Research Association.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 44 (2003)
Issue (Month): 2 (05)
Pages: 627-649

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Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:44:y:2003:i:2:p:627-649
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  1. Neary, J Peter & Schweinberger, Albert G, 1984. "Factor Content Functions and the Theory of International Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 3, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. J Anderson & J.P. Neary, 1993. "Domestic Distortions and International Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp0179, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Feenstra, Robert C., 1995. "Estimating the effects of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1553-1595 Elsevier.
  4. J Anderson & J.P. Neary, 1998. "The Mercantilist Index of Trade Policy," CEP Discussion Papers dp0413, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Neary, J Peter, 1997. "Pitfalls in the Theory of International Trade Policy: Concertina Reforms of Tariffs and Subsidies to HIgh-Technology Industries," CEPR Discussion Papers 1740, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. James E. Anderson, 1993. "Tariff Index Theory," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 215, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Randi Boorstein & Robert C. Feenstra, 1987. "Quality Upgrading and its Welfare Cost in U.S. Steel Imports, 1969-74," NBER Working Papers 2452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. J Anderson & J.P. Neary, 1993. "A New Approach to Evaluating Trade Policy," CEP Discussion Papers dp0173, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  9. Pritchett, Lant & Sethi, Geeta, 1994. "Tariff Rates, Tariff Revenue, and Tariff Reform: Some New Facts," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(1), pages 1-16, January.
  10. Anderson, James E, 1998. "Trade Restrictiveness Benchmarks," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(449), pages 1111-25, July.
  11. Bagwell,K. & Staiger,R.W., 1998. "An economic theory of GATT," Working papers 15, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  12. J. P. Neary (ed.), 1995. "International Trade," Books, Edward Elgar, volume 0, number 575.
  13. O'Rourke, Kevin H., 1997. "Measuring protection: a cautionary tale," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 169-183, June.
  14. Cox, David & Harris, Richard, 1985. "Trade Liberalization and Industrial Organization: Some Estimates for Canada," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(1), pages 115-45, February.
  15. Hatta, Tatsuo, 1977. "A Theory of Piecemeal Policy Recommendations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 1-21, February.
  16. Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Measuring outward orientation in LDCs: Can it be done?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 307-335, May.
  17. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1994. "Technology and Trade," Papers 175, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  18. Aw, Bee Yan & Roberts, Mark J., 1986. "Measuring quality change in quota-constrained import markets: The Case of U.S. Footwear," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 45-60, August.
  19. Anderson, James E & Neary, J Peter, 1992. "Trade Reform with Quotas, Partial Rent Retention, and Tariffs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(1), pages 57-76, January.
  20. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen & Douglas A. Irwin, 1999. "Is Globalization Today Really Different than Globalization a Hunderd Years Ago?," NBER Working Papers 7195, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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