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Export Restrictions and Price Insulation During Commodity Price Booms

  • Anderson, Kym
  • Martin, Will

For individual countries, variable trade barriers can be used to reduce the volatility of domestic relative to world prices. If this is done by countries accounting for a large share of the market, its effect is offset by increases in world price volatility. This study shows the nature of the resulting collective action problem, with the policy being ineffective on average in stabilizing domestic prices while increasing the volatility of the income transfers from terms-of-trade changes. A simple approach to assessing the contribution of insulation to the price increases is developed and used with new estimates of agricultural distortions to assess its contribution to the price spikes in 1972-4 and 2006-8 for rice and wheat. The analysis suggests that 45 percent of the increase in rice prices in 2006-8, and 30 percent of the increase in wheat prices, was due to insulating behavior. One sign of progress since 1972-74 was a substantial reduction in the extent of price-insulating behavior by the industrial countries. This provides little stabilizing benefit in the rice market because countries not classifying themselves at WTO as developing account for only 3 percent of world rice consumption, but it does offer some benefit for the wheat market where non-developing countries account for 27 percent of consumption.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8494.

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Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8494
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  1. Bouet, Antoine & Laborde Debucquet, David, 2010. "Economics of export taxation in a context of food crisis," IFPRI discussion papers 994, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  2. Kym Anderson & Johanna Croser & Damiano Sandri & Ernesto Valenzuela, 2010. "Agricultural Distortion Patterns Since the 1950s: What Needs Explaining?," Centre for International Economic Studies Working Papers 2010-13, University of Adelaide, Centre for International Economic Studies.
  3. Anderson,Kym (ed.), 2010. "The Political Economy of Agricultural Price Distortions," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521763233.
  4. Valenzuela, Ernesto & Wong, Sara & Sandri, Damiano, 2007. "Distortions to Agricultural Incentives in Ecuador," Agricultural Distortions Working Paper 48394, World Bank.
  5. D. Gale Johnson, 1975. "World Agriculture, Commodity Policy, and Price Variability," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 57(5), pages 823-828.
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