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The agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures: tying one's hands through the WTO

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  • Meredith A. Crowley

Abstract

Why would governments agree to restrict their own discretion in setting domestic policies as part of a trade agreement? This paper examines the welfare consequences of the GATT's Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM). If countries which join a trade agreement are given free reign over the use of domestic production subsidies, then after negotiating tariff reductions, governments could undermine the agreement by introducing production subsidies to import-competing producers that effectively act as trade barriers. The SCM restricts the use of domestic subsidies by countries which have joined the WTO. Specifically, governments may not use sector-specific subsidies (agriculture is an exception) but they may subsidize their producers if they offer the same subsidy to all producers in their economies. ; I show that through an agreement like the SCM, governments can better achieve their goals of maximizing domestic welfare. This occurs because terms-of-trade concerns lead to subsidies in import- competing sectors that are higher than globally optimal and in export sectors that are lower than globally optimal. Therefore, a rule to require that subsidies be the same in all sectors forces a country to partially internalize these terms of trade externalities (by reducing subsidies to import-competing sectors and increasing subsidies to export sectors).

Suggested Citation

  • Meredith A. Crowley, 2006. "The agreement on subsidies and countervailing measures: tying one's hands through the WTO," Working Paper Series WP-06-22, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-06-22
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    Cited by:

    1. Pascal L. Ghazalian, 2012. "Home Bias in Primary Agricultural and Processed Food Trade: Assessing the Effects of National Degree of Uncertainty Aversion," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 265-290, June.
    2. Pascal Ghazalian & Ryan Cardwell, 2010. "Did the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture Affect Trade Flows? An Empirical Investigation for Meat Commodities," International Advances in Economic Research, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 16(4), pages 331-344, November.
    3. repec:kap:iaecre:v:16:y:2010:i:4:p:331-344 is not listed on IDEAS

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    General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Organization); Tariff;

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