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Pitfalls in the Theory of International Trade Policy: Concertina Reforms of Tariffs and Subsidies to High Technology Industries

  • J.P. Neary

This paper explores the links between international trade theory and the practice of trade and industrial policy in open economies, with special attention to three areas where theoretical lessons have been misunderstood in policy debates. I argue that the 'concertina rule' for tariff reform justifies reductions in high tariffs, but not moves towards uniformity, and particularly not increases in low tariffs. I show that the basic principles of tariff reform are the same in unilateral, multilateral and customs union contexts. Finally, I show that the theory of strategic trade policy does not justify export subsidies to high-technology industries.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0346.

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Date of creation: May 1997
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0346
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  1. 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.
  2. J. Peter Neary & Dermot Leahy, 1998. "Strategic trade and industrial policy towards dynamic oligopolies," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20246, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  3. Leahy, Dermot & Neary, J Peter, 1995. "International R&D Rivalry and Industrial Strategy without Government Commitment," CEPR Discussion Papers 1199, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Neary, J Peter, 1989. "Trade Liberalization and Shadow Prices in the Presence of Tariffs and Quotas," CEPR Discussion Papers 345, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. d'Aspremont, Claude & Jacquemin, Alexis, 1988. "Cooperative and Noncooperative R&D in Duopoly with Spillovers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(5), pages 1133-37, December.
  6. Leahy, Dermot & Neary, J Peter, 1995. "Public Policy Towards R&D in Oligopolistic Industries," CEPR Discussion Papers 1243, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. James A. Brander & Barbara J. Spencer, 1984. "Export Subsidies and International Market Share Rivalry," NBER Working Papers 1464, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Hatta, Tatsuo, 1977. "A Theory of Piecemeal Policy Recommendations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 1-21, February.
  9. Spencer, Barbara J & Brander, James A, 1983. "International R & D Rivalry and Industrial Strategy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 707-22, October.
  10. Rod Falvey, 1994. "Revenue enhancing tariff reform," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 175-190, March.
  11. Diewert, W E & Turunen-Red, A H & Woodland, A D, 1989. "Productivity- and Pareto-Improving Changes in Taxes and Tariffs," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(2), pages 199-215, April.
  12. James A. Brander, 1995. "Strategic Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 5020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Turunen-Red, Arja H & Woodland, Alan D, 1991. "Strict Pareto-Improving Multilateral Reforms of Tariffs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 1127-52, July.
  14. D Leahy & J.P. Neary, 1997. "R&D Spillovers and the Case for Industrial Policy in an Open Economy," CEP Discussion Papers dp0345, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  15. James E. Anderson, 1996. "Trade Reform with a Government Budget Constraint," NBER Working Papers 5827, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Sandmo, Agnar, 1974. "A Note on the Structure of Optimal Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(4), pages 701-06, September.
  17. Deaton, Angus, 1979. "The Distance Function in Consumer Behaviour with Applications to Index Numbers and Optimal Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(3), pages 391-405, July.
  18. Neary, J. Peter, 1994. "Cost asymmetries in international subsidy games: Should governments help winners or losers?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3-4), pages 197-218, November.
  19. Dixit, Avinash K, 1970. "On the Optimum Structure of Commodity Taxes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(3), pages 295-301, June.
  20. Smith, Alasdair, 1982. "Some simple results on the gains from trade, from growth and from public production," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3-4), pages 215-230, November.
  21. Kemp, Murray C. & Wan, Henry Jr., 1976. "An elementary proposition concerning the formation of customs unions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 95-97, February.
  22. Stern, Nicholas, 1986. "A Note on Commodity Taxation: The Choice of Variable and the Slutsky, Hessian and Antonelli Matrices (SHAM)," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(2), pages 293-99, April.
  23. Fudenberg, Drew & Tirole, Jean, 1984. "The Fat-Cat Effect, the Puppy-Dog Ploy, and the Lean and Hungry Look," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 361-66, May.
  24. Eaton, Jonathan & Grossman, Gene M, 1986. "Optimal Trade and Industrial Policy under Oligopoly," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 101(2), pages 383-406, May.
  25. Falvey, Rodney E., 1988. "Tariffs, quotas and piecemeal policy reform," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 177-183, August.
  26. 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.
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