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Icebergs versus Tariffs: A Quantitative Perspective on the Gains from Trade

  • Gabriel J. Felbermayr
  • Benjamin Jung
  • Mario Larch

Recent quantitative trade models treat import tariffs as pure cost shifters so that their effects are similar to iceberg trade costs. We introduce revenue-generating import tariffs, which act as demand shifters, into the framework of Arkolakis, Costinot and Rodriguez-Clare (2012), and generalize their gains from trade equation. Our formula permits easy quantification based on countries’ observed degrees of openness, tariff revenues, and on the gravity elasticities of tariffs and icebergs. Export selection drives a wedge between these two elasticities and matters for welfare gains. However, in all model variants, an analysis based on iceberg costs necessarily underestimates the true gains from trade relative to autarky. Our quantitative exercise suggests that the bias can be numerically significant. For countries with relatively high tariffs, our formula predicts 30-60% larger gains from trade when iceberg trade costs and/or tariffs are liberalized as compared to a pure reduction of iceberg trade costs.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4175.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4175
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  1. Costinot, Arnaud & Rodriguez-Clare, Andres, 2013. "Trade Theory with Numbers: Quantifying the Consequences of Globalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 9398, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Neary, J Peter, 1991. "Cost Asymmetries in International Subsidy Games: Should Governments Help Winners or Losers?," CEPR Discussion Papers 560, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Fernando Alvarez & Robert E. Lucas, 2005. "General Equilibrium Analysis of the Eaton-Kortum Model of International Trade," NBER Working Papers 11764, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare & Costas Arkolakis, 2010. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," 2010 Meeting Papers 433, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Svetlana Demidova & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2007. "Trade Policy under Firm-Level Heterogeneity in a Small Economy," NBER Working Papers 13688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Ralph Ossa, 2012. "Why Trade Matters After All," NBER Working Papers 18113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Gabriel J. Felbermayr & Benjamin Jung & Mario Larch, 2011. "Optimal Tariffs, Retaliation and the Welfare Loss from Tariff Wars in the Melitz Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 3474, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. Chris Edmond & Virgiliu Midrigan & Daniel Yi Xu, 2012. "Competition, Markups, and the Gains from International Trade," NBER Working Papers 18041, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Edward J. Balistreri & Russell H. Hillberry & Thomas F. Rutherford, 2008. "Structural Estimation and Solution of International Trade Models with Heterogeneous Firms," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1056, The University of Melbourne.
  11. Chris Edmond & Virgiliu Midrigan & Daniel Yi Xu, 2011. "Competition , Markups, and the Gains from," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1183, The University of Melbourne, revised 2014.
  12. Matthieu Crozet & Pamina Koenig, 2010. "Structural gravity equations with intensive and extensive margins," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(1), pages 41-62, February.
  13. Matthew T Cole, 2011. "Distorted Trade Barriers," Working Papers 201105, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  14. Costas Arkolakis & Svetlana Demidova & Peter J. Klenow & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2008. "Endogenous Variety and the Gains from Trade," NBER Working Papers 13933, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Philipp J. H. Schröder & Allan Sørensen, 2014. "A Welfare Ranking of Multilateral Reductions in Real and Tariff Trade Barriers when Firms are Heterogenous," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 423-443, 08.
  16. Edward J. Balistreri & James R. Markusen, 2007. "Sub-national Differentiation and the Role of the Firm in Optimal International Pricing," NBER Working Papers 13130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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