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Optimal Tariffs, Retaliation and the Welfare Loss from Tariff Wars in the Melitz Model

  • Gabriel J. Felbermayr
  • Benjamin Jung
  • Mario Larch

This paper characterizes analytically the optimal tariff of a large one-sector economy with monopolistic competition and firm heterogeneity in general equilibrium, thereby extending the small-country results of Demidova and Rodriguez-Clare (JIE, 2009) and the homogeneous firms framework of Gros (JIE, 1987). The optimal tariff internalizes a markup distortion and a terms of trade externality. It is larger the higher the dispersion of firm-level productivities, and the bigger the country's relative size or relative average productivity. Furthermore, in the two-country Nash equilibrium, tariffs turn out to be strategic substitutes. Small or poor economies set lower Nash tariffs than large or rich ones. Lower transportation costs or smaller fixed market entry costs induce higher equilibrium tariffs and larger welfare losses relative to the case of zero tariffs. Similarly, cross-country productivity or size convergence increases the global welfare loss due to non-cooperative tariff policies. These results suggest that post WWII trends have increased the relative merits of the WTO.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3474.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3474
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  1. Gabriel Felbermayr & Benjamin Jung, 2011. "Sorting It Out: Technical Barriers to Trade and Industry Productivity," Open Economies Review, Springer, vol. 22(1), pages 93-117, February.
  2. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487, 05.
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  11. Pinelopi Koujianou Goldbe & Giovanni Maggi, 1997. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 5942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  14. Matthew T. Cole (University College Dublin) Ronald B. Davies (University College Dublin), 2009. "Optimal Tariffs, Tariff Jumping, and Heterogeneous Firms," The Institute for International Integration Studies Discussion Paper Series iiisdp302, IIIS.
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  24. POSCHKE, Markus, 2011. "The Firm Size Distribution across Countries and Skill-Biased Change in Entrepreneurial Technology," Cahiers de recherche 08-2011, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  25. Ariel Burstein & Jonathan Vogel, 2011. "Factor Prices and International Trade: A Unifying Perspective," NBER Working Papers 16904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Venables, Anthony J, 1987. "Trade and Trade Policy with Differentiated Products: A Chamberlinian-Ricardian Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 97(387), pages 700-717, September.
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  29. Richard Baldwin, 2005. "Heterogeneous Firms and Trade: Testable and Untestable Properties of the Melitz Model," NBER Working Papers 11471, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. Demidova, Svetlana & Rodríguez-Clare, Andrés, 2009. "Trade policy under firm-level heterogeneity in a small economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 100-112, June.
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