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Trade and Growth in the Presence of Distortions

  • Stephen Tokarick
  • James H Cassing

Tariffs and other policy distortions typically lower real national income relative to what it otherwise would have been for any given rate of factor accumulation. Even while lowering real income, however, policy distortions may raise an economy's real measured growth rate and so, somewhat deceivingly, give the impression that national welfare has benefited from things like tariff protection. This would be an incorrect conclusion. This paper discusses the issue of how protection can affect the rate of growth for a small, open economy. As shown by Johnson (1970), in the presence of exogenously given factor accumulation, tariffs either raise or lower an economy's growth rate (measured by the change in the value of output at world prices), relative to the no-distortion growth rate. We also discuss the relevance of this result for tariff uniformity, "tariff jumping" foreign direct investment, and the empirical literature on trade and growth. Finally we use a numerical simulation model of Egypt to assess whether the costs of its tax distortions have increased or declined over time.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 05/12.

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Length: 32
Date of creation: 01 Jan 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:05/12
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  1. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-63, September.
  2. Lofgren, Hans & El-Said, Moataz, 1999. "A general equilibrium analysis of alternative scenarios for food subsidy reform in Egypt:," TMD discussion papers 48, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  3. Michael A. Clemens & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "A Tariff-Growth Paradox? Protection's Impact the World Around 1875-1997," NBER Working Papers 8459, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
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  12. Cassing, James H., 1983. "A note on growth in the presence of tariffs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1-2), pages 115-121, February.
  13. Dawkins, Christina & Srinivasan, T.N. & Whalley, John, 2001. "Calibration," Handbook of Econometrics, in: J.J. Heckman & E.E. Leamer (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 58, pages 3653-3703 Elsevier.
  14. Jones, Ronald W & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1977. "The Relevance of the Two-Sector Production Model in Trade Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(5), pages 909-35, October.
  15. Andrew Berg & Anne O. Krueger, 2003. "Trade, Growth, and Poverty: A Selective Survey," IMF Working Papers 03/30, International Monetary Fund.
  16. Ronald W. Jones, 1965. "The Structure of Simple General Equilibrium Models," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 557.
  17. Stephen L. Parente & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Barriers to Riches," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661306, June.
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