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Trade adjustment dynamics and the welfare gains from trade

Author

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  • George Alessandria
  • Horag Choi
  • Kim J. Ruhl

Abstract

We build a micro-founded two-country dynamic general equilibrium model in which trade responds more to a cut in tariffs in the long run than in the short run. The model introduces a time element to the fixed-variable cost trade-off in a heterogeneous producer trade model. Thus, the dynamics of aggregate trade adjustment arise from producer-level decisions to invest in lowering their future variable export costs. The model is calibrated to match salient features of new exporter growth and provides a new estimate of the exporting technology. At the micro level, we find that new exporters commonly incur substantial losses in the first three years in the export market and that export profits are backloaded. At the macro level, the slow export expansion at the producer level leads to sluggishness in the aggregate response of exports to a change in tariffs, with a long-run trade elasticity that is 2.9 times the short-run trade elasticity. We estimate the welfare gains from trade from a cut in tariffs, taking into account the transition period. While the intensity of trade expands slowly, consumption overshoots its new steady-state level, so the welfare gains are almost 15 times larger than the long-run change in consumption. Models without this dynamic export decision underestimate the gains to lowering tariffs, particularly when constrained to also match the gradual expansion of aggregate trade flows.

Suggested Citation

  • George Alessandria & Horag Choi & Kim J. Ruhl, 2014. "Trade adjustment dynamics and the welfare gains from trade," Working Papers 14-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedpwp:14-14
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sunk cost; Fixed cost; Establishment heterogeneity; Tariffs; Welfare; DSGE;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation

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