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Why Governments Tax or Subsidize Trade: Evidence from Agriculture

  • Gawande, Kishore
  • Hoekman, Bernard

This paper empirically explores the political-economic determinants of why governments choose to tax or subsidize trade in agriculture. We use a new data set on nominal rates of assistance (NRA) across a number of commodities spanning the last five decades for 64 countries. NRAs measure the effect on domestic (relative to world) price of the quantitative and price-based instruments used to regulate agricultural markets. The data set admits consideration of both taxes and subsidies on exports and imports. We find that both economic and political variables play important roles in determining the within-variation in the NRA data. Based on our results we offer a number of data-driven exploratory hypotheses that can inform future theoretical and empirical research on why governments choose to tax or subsidize agricultural products – an important policy question that is also one of the least understood by scholars.

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Paper provided by World Bank in its series Agricultural Distortions Working Paper with number 50300.

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Date of creation: May 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ags:wbadwp:50300
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  1. Anderson, Kym & Martin, William J., 2007. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Asia," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 48557, World Bank.
  2. Kym Anderson & Johanna Croser & Damiano Sandri & Ernesto Valenzuela, 2010. "Agricultural Distortion Patterns Since the 1950s: What Needs Explaining?," Centre for International Economic Studies Working Papers 2010-13, University of Adelaide, Centre for International Economic Studies.
  3. Olper, Alessandro & Raimondi, Valentina, 2008. "Consitutional Rules and Agricultural Policy Outcomes," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 43870, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
  4. Anderson, Kym & Kurzweil, Marianne & Martin, Will & Sandri, Damiano & Valenzuela, Ernesto, 2008. "Measuring distortions to agricultural incentives, revisited," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4612, The World Bank.
  5. Hoekman, Bernanrd & Ng, Francis & Olarreaga, Marcelo, 2003. "Reducing agrcultural tariffs versus domestic support : what's more important for developing countries?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2918, The World Bank.
  6. Anderson, Kym & Martin, William J. & Valenzuela, Ernesto, 2006. "The Relative Importance of Global Agricultural Subsidies and Market Access," 2006 Annual meeting, July 23-26, Long Beach, CA 21180, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  7. Pushan Dutt & Devashish Mitra, 2005. "Political Ideology and Endogenous Trade Policy: An Empirical Investigation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 59-72, February.
  8. Rodnik, Dani, 1992. "Conceptual issues in the design of trade policy for industrialization," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 309-320, March.
  9. Rodrik, Dani, 1995. "Political economy of trade policy," Handbook of International Economics, in: G. M. Grossman & K. Rogoff (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1457-1494 Elsevier.
  10. Dutt, Pushan & Mitra, Devashish, 2002. "Endogenous trade policy through majority voting: an empirical investigation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 107-133, October.
  11. Anderson, Kym, 1993. "Lobbying Incentives and the Pattern of Protection in Rich and Poor Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 789, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. De Gorter, Harry & Swinnen, Johan, 2002. "Political economy of agricultural policy," Handbook of Agricultural Economics, in: B. L. Gardner & G. C. Rausser (ed.), Handbook of Agricultural Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 36, pages 1893-1943 Elsevier.
  13. World Bank, 2007. "World Development Indicators 2007," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 8150.
  14. Dutt, Pushan & Mitra, Devashish, 2006. "Labor versus capital in trade-policy: The role of ideology and inequality," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 310-320, July.
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