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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. 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.
  2. Chris Edmond, Virgiliu Midrigan, Daniel Yi Xu,, 2012. "Competition, Markups, and the Gains from," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1145, The University of Melbourne.
  3. J. Peter Neary, 1990. "Cost asymmetries in international subsidy games : should governments help winners or losers?," Working Papers 199008, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  4. Balistreri, Edward J. & Markusen, James R., 2009. "Sub-national differentiation and the role of the firm in optimal international pricing," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 47-62, January.
  5. Matthew T. Cole, 2011. "Distorted Trade Barriers," Working Papers 201105, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  6. Russell H. Hillberry & Edward J. Balistreri & Thomas F. Rutherford, 2007. "Structural Estimation and Solution of International Trade Models with Heterogeneous Firms," DEGIT Conference Papers c012_038, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  7. Arnaud Costinot & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2013. "Trade Theory with Numbers: Quantifying the Consequences of Globalization," NBER Working Papers 18896, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Jung, Benjamin & Larch, Mario, 2013. "Optimal tariffs, retaliation, and the welfare loss from tariff wars in the Melitz model," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 13-25.
  10. Alvarez, Fernando & Lucas, Robert Jr., 2007. "General equilibrium analysis of the Eaton-Kortum model of international trade," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1726-1768, September.
  11. Costas Arkolakis & Svetlana Demidova & Peter J. Klenow & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2008. "Endogenous Variety and the Gains from Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 444-50, May.
  12. 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.
  13. Matthieu Crozet & Pamina Koenig, 2010. "Structural gravity equation with intensive and extensive margins," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-00610937, HAL.
  14. 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.
  15. Ralph Ossa, 2012. "Why Trade Matters After All," NBER Working Papers 18113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2009. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," NBER Working Papers 15628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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