IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Poverty and Inequality Impacts of Trade Policy Reforms in South Africa


  • Ramos Mabugu
  • Margaret Chitiga


South Africa has undergone significant trade liberalization since the end of apartheid. Average protection has fallen while openness has increased. However, economic growth has been insufficient to make inroads into the high unemployment levels. Poverty levels have also risen. The country's experience presents an interesting challenge for many economists that argue that trade liberalization is pro-poor and pro-growth. This study investigates the short and long term effects of trade liberalization using a dynamic microsimulation computable general equilibrium approach. Trade liberalization has been simulated by a complete removal of all tariffs on imported goods and services, and by a combination of tariff removal and an increase of total factor productivity. The main findings are that a complete tariff removal on imports has negative welfare and poverty reduction impacts in the short run which turns positive in the long term due to the accumulation effects. When the tariff removal simulation is combined with an increase of total factor productivity, the short and long run effects are both positive in terms of welfare and poverty reduction. The mining sector (highest export orientation) is the biggest winner from the reforms while the textiles sector (highest initial tariff rate) is the biggest loser. African and Colored households gain the most in terms of welfare and numbers being pulled out of absolute poverty by trade liberalization.

Suggested Citation

  • Ramos Mabugu & Margaret Chitiga, 2007. "Poverty and Inequality Impacts of Trade Policy Reforms in South Africa," Working Papers MPIA 2007-19, PEP-MPIA.
  • Handle: RePEc:lvl:mpiacr:2007-19

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-766, May.
    2. B. Gibson & D.E.N. Seventer, 1997. "The Macroeconomic Impact of Restructuring Public Expenditure by Function in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 65(2), pages 89-103, June.
    3. François Bourguignon & William H. Branson & Jaime de Melo, 1989. "Macroeconomic Adjustment and Income Distribution: A Macro-Micro Simulation Model," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 1, OECD Publishing.
    4. Nabil Annabi & H. Khondker Bazlul & Selim Raihan & John Cockburn & Bernard Decaluwe, 2005. "Implications of WTO Agreements and Domestic Trade Policy Reforms for Poverty in Bangladesh: Short vs. Long Run," Working Papers MPIA 2005-02, PEP-MPIA.
    5. Margaret Chitiga & John Cockburn & Bernard Decaluwé & Ismaël Fofana & Ramos Mabugu, 2010. "Case Study: A gender-focused macro-micro analysis of the poverty impacts of trade liberalization in South Africa," International Journal of Microsimulation, International Microsimulation Association, vol. 3(1), pages 104-108.
    6. Jan van Heerden & Reyer Gerlagh & James Blignaut & Mark Horridge & Sebastiaan Hess & Ramos Mabugu & Margaret Mabugu, 2006. "Searching for Triple Dividends in South Africa: Fighting CO2 Pollution and Poverty while Promoting Growth," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 2), pages 113-142.
    7. Z. R. Coetzee & K. Kwarada & W. Naude & J. Swanepoel, 1997. "Currency Depreciation, Trade Liberalisation and Economic Development," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 65(2), pages 78-88, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ramos Mabugu & Margaret Chitiga, 2007. "Poverty and inequality effects of a high growth scenario in South Africa: A dynamic microsimulation CGE analysis," Working Papers 04/2007, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    2. Mabugu, Ramos & Chitiga, Margaret, 2009. "Is increased agricultural protection beneficial for South Africa?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 256-265, January.
    3. Kebede, Sindu & Fekadu, Belay & Aredo, Dejene, 2011. "Trade Liberalization and Poverty: A Macro-Micro Analysis in Ethiopia," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 44, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.

    More about this item


    Sequential dynamic CGE; microsimulation; trade liberalization; total factor productivity; poverty; welfare; growth; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • D58 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Computable and Other Applied General Equilibrium Models
    • E27 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lvl:mpiacr:2007-19. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Manuel Paradis). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.