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Steepest Ascent Tariff Reforms

  • Raimondos-Møller, Pascalis
  • Woodland, Alan D

This paper introduces the concept of a steepest ascent tariff reform for a small open economy. By construction, it is locally optimal in that it yields the highest gain in utility of any feasible tariff reform vector of the same length. Accordingly, it provides a convenient benchmark for the evaluation of the welfare effectiveness of other well known tariff reform rules, as e.g. the proportional and the concertina rules. We develop the properties of this tariff reform, characterize the sources of the potential welfare gains from tariff reform, use it to establish conditions under which some existing reforms are locally optimal, provide geometric illustrations and compare welfare effectiveness of reforms using numerical examples. Moreover, being a general concept, we apply it to the issue of market access and examine its implications. Overall, the paper’s contribution lies in presenting a theoretical concept where the focus is upon the size of welfare gains accruing from tariff reforms rather than simply with the direction of welfare effects that has been the concern of the literature.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5782.

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Date of creation: Aug 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5782
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  1. Fukushima, Takashi, 1979. "Tariff Structure, Nontraded Goods and Theory of Piecemeal Policy Recommendations," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 20(2), pages 427-35, June.
  2. Lloyd, P. J., 1974. "A more general theory of price distortions in open economies," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 365-386, November.
  3. Hiau LooiKee & Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2009. "Estimating Trade Restrictiveness Indices," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(534), pages 172-199, 01.
  4. 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.
  5. Rod Falvey & Udo Kreickemeier, 2009. "Tariff reforms with rigid wages," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 23-39, October.
  6. Rod Falvey, 1994. "Revenue enhancing tariff reform," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 175-190, March.
  7. Anderson, James E. & Neary, J. Peter, 2007. "Welfare versus market access: The implications of tariff structure for tariff reform," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 187-205, March.
  8. 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.
  9. James E. Anderson & J. Peter Neary, 2005. "Measuring the Restrictiveness of International Trade Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262012200, June.
  10. Diewert, W E & Turunen-Red, A H & Woodland, A D, 1991. "Tariff Reform in a Small Open Multi-household Economy with Domestic Distortions and Nontraded Goods," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 32(4), pages 937-57, November.
  11. Weymark, John A., 1981. "Undominated directions of tax reform," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 343-369, December.
  12. 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.
  13. Tirole, J. & Guesnerie, R., 1981. "Tax reform from the gradient projection viewpoint," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 275-293, June.
  14. Ju, Jiandong & Krishna, Kala, 2000. "Welfare and market access effects of piecemeal tariff reform," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 305-316, August.
  15. 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.
  16. Hatta, Tatsuo, 1977. "A Theory of Piecemeal Policy Recommendations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 1-21, February.
  17. Hatta, Tatsuo, 1977. "A Recommendation for a Better Tariff Structure," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(8), pages 1859-69, November.
  18. Diewert, W. E., 1978. "Optimal tax perturbations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-177, October.
  19. Abe, Kenzo, 1992. "Tariff Reform in a Small Open Economy with Public Production," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 33(1), pages 209-22, February.
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