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South African Trade Policy Matters: Trade Performance and Trade Policy

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  • Lawrence Edwards
  • Robert Z. Lawrence

Abstract

South African trade policy has exerted a major influence on the composition and aggregate growth of trade. In the Apartheid period, trade protection seriously impeded both exports and imports, and the economy depended on favorable global commodity price trends to avoid running into an external constraint. South Africa developed a comparative advantage in capital-intensive primary and manufactured commodities partly because of its natural resource endowments but also because the pattern of protection was particularly detrimental to exports of non-commodity manufactured goods. High and opaque tariffs seriously impeded export growth. When global commodity markets were weak, in combination with declining gold exports, this seriously constrained aggregate growth and dulled the response of exports to the weaker rand in the late 1980s. On the other hand, surcharges were effective in reducing imports. By contrast, trade liberalization in the 1990s not only increased imports but, by reducing both input costs and the relative profitability of domestic sales, also boosted exports. The growth in non-commodity manufactured sectoral exports as a result of liberalization was actually faster than sectoral imports. This evidence suggests that additional trade liberalization could well be part of the strategy to enhance export diversification. It points to the importance of policies that afford South African firms with access to inputs at world prices as well as a competitive real exchange rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence Edwards & Robert Z. Lawrence, 2006. "South African Trade Policy Matters: Trade Performance and Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 12760, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12760
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    Cited by:

    1. Rattsø, Jørn & Stokke, Hildegunn, 2009. "Wage inequality, comparative advantage and skill biased technical change in South Africa," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Frankfurt a.M. 2009 34, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    2. Rattsø, Jørn & Stokke, Hildegunn E., 2012. "Trade policy in a growth model with technology gap dynamics and simulations for South Africa," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(7), pages 1042-1056.
    3. Rodrick, Dani, 2006. "Understanding South Africa's Economic Puzzles," Working Paper Series rwp06-039, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    4. Charl Jooste & Yaseen Jhaveri, 2014. "The Determinants of Time-Varying Exchange Rate Pass-Through in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 82(4), pages 603-615, December.
    5. repec:khe:scajes:v:4:y:2018:i:1:p:133-140 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Jørn Rattsø & Hildegunn e. Stokke, 2007. "A Growth Model For South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(4), pages 616-630, December.
    7. Dani Rodrik, 2008. "Understanding South Africa's economic puzzles ," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(4), pages 769-797, October.
    8. Rahul Anand & Roberto Perrelli & Boyang Zhang, 2016. "South Africa’s Exports Performance; Any Role for Structural Factors?," IMF Working Papers 16/24, International Monetary Fund.
    9. Stan Du plessis & Ben Smit & Federico Sturzenegger, 2007. "The Cyclicality Of Monetary And Fiscal Policy In South Africa Since 1994," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 75(3), pages 391-411, September.
    10. Jørn Rattsø & Hildegunn E. Stokke, 2009. "Trade barriers to growth in South Africa: Endogenous investment-productivity-trade interaction," DEGIT Conference Papers c014_010, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    11. Osman, Rehab Osman Mohamed, 2012. "The EU Economic Partnership Agreements with Southern Africa: a computable general equilibrium analysis," Economics PhD Theses 0412, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    12. Michele Alessandrini & Michael Enowbi Batuo, 2010. "The trade specialization of SANE: Evidence from manufacturing industries," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 7(1), pages 145-178, June.
    13. Kishor Sharma & Pemasiri J. Gunawardana, 2012. "The role of price and nonprice factors in predicting Australia's trade performance," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(21), pages 2679-2686, July.
    14. Torfinn Harding & Jørn Rattsø, 2009. "Industrial labor productivities and tariffs in South Africa. Identification based on multilateral liberalization reform," Discussion Papers 585, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    15. Stan Du Plessis & Kevin Kotze, 2012. "Trends and Structural Changes in South African Macroeconomic Volatility," Working Papers 297, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    16. Philippe Aghion & Johannes Fedderke & Peter Howitt & Chandana Kularatne & Nicola Viegi, 2008. "Testing Creative Destruction in an Opening Economy : the Case of the South African Manufacturing Inudstries," Documents de Travail de l'OFCE 2008-23, Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE).
    17. Barine Michael Nwidobie, 2014. "Growth in Nigeria’s Non-Oil Export Finance and Non-Oil Export Performance: A Correlational Analysis," International Journal of Business and Social Research, MIR Center for Socio-Economic Research, vol. 4(2), pages 31-39, February.

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    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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