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The Impact of Trade Liberalization on the Trade Balance in Developing Countries


  • Yi Wu
  • Li Zeng


Using two recently constructed measures of trade liberalization dates, this research studies the impact of trade liberalization on imports, exports, and overall trade balance for a large sample of developing countries. We find strong and consistent evidence that trade liberalization leads to higher imports and exports. However, in contrast Santos-Paulino and Thirwall (2004) who find a robustly negative impact of trade liberalization on the overall trade balance, we only find mixed evidence of such a negative impact. In particular, we find little evidence of a statistically significant negative impact using our first measure of liberalization dates which extends Li (2004). Using a second measure of liberalization dates compiled by Wacziarg and Welch (2003), we find some evidence that liberalization worsens the trade balance, but the evidence is not robust across different estimation specifications, and the estimated impact is smaller than that reported by Santos-Paulino and Thirwall (2004).

Suggested Citation

  • Yi Wu & Li Zeng, 2008. "The Impact of Trade Liberalization on the Trade Balance in Developing Countries," IMF Working Papers 08/14, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:08/14

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Melo, Oscar & Vogt, Michael G., 1984. "Determinants of the demand for imports of Venezuela," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 351-358, April.
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    3. David Roodman, 2009. "How to do xtabond2: An introduction to difference and system GMM in Stata," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 9(1), pages 86-136, March.
    4. Santos-Paulino, Amelia U., 2002. "The Effects of Trade Liberalization on Imports in Selected Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 959-974, June.
    5. David Greenaway & David Sapsford, 1994. "What does liberalisation do for exports and growth?," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 130(1), pages 152-174, March.
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    7. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
    8. Baunsgaard, Thomas & Keen, Michael, 2010. "Tax revenue and (or?) trade liberalization," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(9-10), pages 563-577, October.
    9. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
    10. Bertola, Giuseppe & Faini, Riccardo, 1990. "Import demand and non-tariff barriers: The impact of trade liberalization : An application to Morocco," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1-2), pages 269-286, November.
    11. Xiangming Li, 2004. "Trade Liberalization and Real Exchange Rate Movement," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 51(3), pages 553-584, November.
    12. Amelia Santos-Paulino & A. P. Thirlwall, 2004. "The impact of trade liberalisation on exports, imports and the balance of payments of developing countries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(493), pages 50-72, February.
    13. Ostry, Jonathan D. & Rose, Andrew K., 1992. "An empirical evaluation of the macroeconomic effects of tarrifs," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 63-79, February.
    14. Bowsher, Clive G., 2002. "On testing overidentifying restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 211-220, October.
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    1. repec:sae:fortra:v:52:y:2017:i:4:p:219-232 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Natalya Ketenci, 2017. "The Effect of the European Union Customs Union on the Balance of Trade in Turkey," Foreign Trade Review, , vol. 52(4), pages 219-232, November.

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    Balance of trade; Developing countries; Trade liberalization; trade balance; impact of trade; impact of trade liberalization; terms of trade;

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