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Specialization and Diverging Manufacturing Structures: The Aftermath of Trade Policy Reforms in Developing Countries

  • Antoni Estevadeordal

    (Inter-American Development Bank)

  • Christian Volpe Martincus

    (Inter-American Development Bank)

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    Trade barriers have been declining around the world over the last five decades. Countries reduced their tariffs unilaterally as well as concertedly in the framework of regional integration agreements. As a consequence, trade flows among economies have substantially intensified. According to economic theory, this should have had a significant impact on the countries’ specialization patterns. However, to our knowledge, there is no direct robust econometric evidence on the effect of trade policy on the overall degree of countries’ specialization. This paper aims at filling this gap in the literature. We focus on ten Latin American countries members of the LAIA (Latin American Integration Association) over the period 1985-1998. These countries are natural case studies because in the last two decades they implemented road and comprehensive trade liberalization programs, both generally and preferentially, starting from relatively high tariff protection levels. Our econometric results suggest that reducing own MFN tariffs is associated with increasing manufacturing production specialization. Furthermore, we find that preferential trade liberalization and differences in the degree of unilateral openness have resulted in increased dissimilarities in manufacturing production structures across countries. These results are robust to the specialization measure being used, the correction for groupwise heteroscedasticity, cross-sectional correlation, serial correlation and endogeneity biases, and the inclusion of indicators to account for the real exchange misalignment prevailing in the region during the period under examination.

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    File URL: http://www.dagliano.unimi.it/media/WP2006_220.pdf
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    Paper provided by Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano in its series Development Working Papers with number 220.

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    Date of creation: 01 Jun 2006
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    Handle: RePEc:csl:devewp:220
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