The Challenge of Reducing Subsidies and Trade Barriers
This is one of ten studies for the Copenhagen Consensus Project that sought to evaluate the most feasible opportunities to improve welfare globally and alleviate poverty in developing countries. It argues that phasing out distortionary government subsidies and barriers to international trade will yield an extraordinarily high benefit/cost ratio. A survey is provided of recent estimates, using global economy wide simulation models, of the benefits of doing that via the current Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations. Even if adjustment costs are several times as large as suggested by available estimates, the benefit-cost ratio from seizing this opportunity exceeds 20. That is much higher than the rewards from regional or bilateral trade agreements or from providing preferential access for least-developed countries’ exports to high-income countries. Such reform would simultaneously contribute to alleviating several of the other key challenges reflected in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
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