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The asymmetric effects of twenty years of tariff reforms on Egyptian workers


  • Giorgia Giovannetti

    () (Università di Firenze)

  • Enrico Marvasi

    () (Università di Firenze)

  • Arianna Vivoli

    () (Università di Firenze)


After more than two decades of trade liberalization, faced with deep structural problems which were exacerbated by the 2008 financial crisis and culminated in the 2011 Spring Revolution and government change, in 2016 Egypt started to protect some sectors from foreign competition. This paper assesses how tariff reforms during the 1998-2018 period affected the Egyptian labour market by focusing on real wages and job stability (i.e. having a permanent position). The empirical analysis is carried out on worker-level data from the available four waves of Egyptian Labour Market Panel Survey (ELMPS), including the recently released 2018 wave. We find that higher tariff protection tends to deteriorate labour market conditions, both lowering real wages and decreasing the probability of finding a stable job. Furthermore, tariff changes show remarkable asymmetries. There is a negative and significant correlation between tariffs increases and real wages, while the positive impact of tariff reductions turns out to be negligible and insignificant. Our findings support the view that in Egypt protectionism hampered working conditions, contributing to inequality, while liberalizations produced minor average effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgia Giovannetti & Enrico Marvasi & Arianna Vivoli, 2020. "The asymmetric effects of twenty years of tariff reforms on Egyptian workers," Working Papers LuissLab 20156, Dipartimento di Economia e Finanza, LUISS Guido Carli.
  • Handle: RePEc:lui:lleewp:20156

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ann Harrison & John McLaren & Margaret McMillan, 2011. "Recent Perspectives on Trade and Inequality," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 3(1), pages 261-289, September.
    2. Puja Vasudeva Dutta, 2007. "Trade Protection and Industry Wages in India," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 268-286, January.
    3. Erten, Bilge & Leight, Jessica & Tregenna, Fiona, 2019. "Trade liberalization and local labor market adjustment in South Africa," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 448-467.
    4. Salem, Mélika Ben & Zaki, Chahir, 2019. "Revisiting the Impact of Trade Openness on Informal and Irregular Employment in Egypt," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 34(3), pages 465-497.
    5. Aya Elewa, 2019. "Trade openness and domestic market share evidence from egypt firm-level data," Post-Print hal-02621997, HAL.
    6. Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2004. "Trade, Inequality, and Poverty: What Do We Know? Evidence from Recent Trade Liberalization Episodes in Developing Countries," NBER Working Papers 10593, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Aya Elewa, 2019. "Trade Openness and Domestic Market Share," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 19(3), pages 441-463, September.
    8. Pablo D Fajgelbaum & Pinelopi K Goldberg & Patrick J Kennedy & Amit K Khandelwal, 2020. "The Return to Protectionism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 135(1), pages 1-55.
    9. Mary Amiti & Stephen J. Redding & David E. Weinstein, 2019. "The Impact of the 2018 Tariffs on Prices and Welfare," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 33(4), pages 187-210, Fall.
    10. Chahir Zaki, 2014. "On Trade Policies and Wage Disparity: Evidence from Egyptian Microeconomic Data," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(1), pages 37-69, March.
    11. John McLaren, 2017. "Globalization and Labor Market Dynamics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 9(1), pages 177-200, September.
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    More about this item


    trade policy; labour market; wage; inequality; Egypt;

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions

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