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The Mercantilist Index of Trade Policy

  • James E. Anderson

    ()

    (Boston College)

  • J. Peter Neary

    ()

International trade policies are often compared across countries and over time for a variety of purposes. Analysts use such measures as arithmetic or trade-weighted average tariffs, Non-Tariff Barrier (NTB) coverage ratios and measures of tariff dispersion. All such measures are without theoretical foundation. In this paper we develop and characterise a theoretically-based index number of trade policy which is appropriate to trade negotiations. We characterize an index of trade policy restrictiveness defined as the uniform tariff equivalent which maintains the same volume of trade as a given set of tariffs, quotas, and domestic taxes and subsidies. We relate this volume-equivalent index to the Trade Restrictiveness Index, a welfare-equivalent measure, and relate changes in both indexes to changes in the generalised mean and variance of the tariff schedule. Applications to international cross-section and time-series comparisons of trade policy show that the new index frequently gives a very different picture than do standard indexes.

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Paper provided by Boston College Department of Economics in its series Boston College Working Papers in Economics with number 416.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 1998
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Publication status: published, International Economic Review, 2003, 44, 627-49
Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:416
Contact details of provider: Postal: Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill MA 02467 USA
Phone: 617-552-3670
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  1. James E. Anderson, 1993. "Tariff Index Theory," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 215, Boston College Department of Economics.
  2. Anderson, James E & Bannister, Geoffrey J & Neary, J Peter, 1995. "Domestic Distortions and International Trade," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 36(1), pages 139-57, February.
  3. Anderson, James E & Neary, J Peter, 1998. "The Mercantilist Index of Trade Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 2044, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Anderson, James E & Neary, J Peter, 1992. "A New Approach to Evaluating Trade Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 683, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Robert W. Staiger & Kyle Bagwell, 1999. "An Economic Theory of GATT," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 215-248, March.
  6. David Cox & Richard Harris, 1983. "Trade Liberalization and Industrial Organization: Some Estimates for Canada," Working Papers 523, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  7. James Anderson, 1995. "Trade Restrictiveness Benchmarks," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 290., Boston College Department of Economics.
  8. Grossman, G.M. & Helpman, E., 1994. "Technology and Trade," Papers 175, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Public and International Affairs.
  9. 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.
  10. Feenstra, R.C., 1995. "Estimating the Effects of Trade Policy," Papers 95-10, California Davis - Institute of Governmental Affairs.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Pritchett, Lant & Sethi, Geeta, 1993. "Tariff rates, tariff revenue, and tariff reform : some new facts," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1143, The World Bank.
  14. Neary, J Peter & Schweinberger, Albert G, 1986. "Factor Content Functions and the Theory of International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 421-32, July.
  15. 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.
  16. O'Rourke, Kevin H., 1997. "Measuring protection: a cautionary tale," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 169-183, June.
  17. Hatta, Tatsuo, 1977. "A Theory of Piecemeal Policy Recommendations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 1-21, February.
  18. Pritchett, Lant, 1996. "Measuring outward orientation in LDCs: Can it be done?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 307-335, May.
  19. 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.
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