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Testing the Theory of Trade Policy: Evidence from the Abrupt End of the Multifiber Arrangement

  • James Harrigan

    (Department of Economics, University of Virginia)

  • Geoffrey Barrows

    (University of California Berkeley ARE)

Quota restrictions on United States imports of apparel and textiles under the multifiber arrangement (MFA) ended abruptly in January 2005. This change in policy was large, predetermined, and fully anticipated, making it an ideal natural experiment for testing the theory of trade policy. Prices of quota-constrained categories from China fell by 38% in 2005, with smaller declines from other exporters. Prices in unconstrained categories from all countries changed little. We also find substantial quality downgrading in imports from China in previously constrained categories. The annual cost of the MFAto U.S. consumers was $63 per household. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Review of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 91 (2009)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 282-294

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:91:y:2009:i:2:p:282-294
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  1. Feenstra, Robert C, 1988. "Quality Change under Trade Restraints in Japanese Autos," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 131-46, February.
  2. Carlos Alfredo Rodriguez, 1979. "The Quality of Imports and the Differential Welfare Effects of Tariffs, Quotas, and Quality Controls as Protective Devices," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 12(3), pages 439-49, August.
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  4. Carolyn Evans & James Harrigan, 2005. "Tight Clothing. How the MFA Affects Asian Apparel Exports," NBER Chapters, in: International Trade in East Asia, NBER-East Asia Seminar on Economics, Volume 14, pages 367-390 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2002. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," NBER Working Papers 9023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. James E. Anderson, 1988. "The Relative Inefficiency of Quotas," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511789, June.
  7. Falvey, Rodney E, 1979. "The Composition of Trade within Import-restricted Product Categories," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(5), pages 1105-14, October.
  8. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "Trade Liberalization and the Theory of Endogenous Protection: An Econometric Study of U.S. Import Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 138-60, February.
  9. J. Michael Finger & Ann Harrison, 1996. "Import Protection for U.S. Textiles and Apparel: Viewed from the Domestic Perspective," NBER Chapters, in: The Political Economy of Trade Protection, pages 43-50 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Fukuda, Shin-ichi & Hoshi, Takeo & Ito, Takatoshi & Rose, Andrew, 2006. "International Finance," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 455-458, December.
  11. Krishna, Kala, 1989. "Trade restrictions as facilitating practices," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(3-4), pages 251-270, May.
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