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Rebalancing and the Chinese VAT: Some Numerical Simulation Results

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  • Chunding Li
  • John Whalley

Abstract

This paper presents numerical simulation results that suggest that China can both reduce its trade imbalance and receive welfare benefits by switching the value added tax (VAT) regime from the current destination principle to an origin principle. With the tax on exports exceeding that no longer collected on imports, revenues rise and exports fall. VAT regime switching is thus a possibility for China to receive a double benefit, rebalancing trade with a welfare gain. This has implications for present G20 discussions on finding ways to adjust global trade imbalances. Under a destination principle, imports are taxed but input taxes are rebated on exports (as currently). Under an origin basis imports are not taxed, but no export rebates are given. Previous VAT literature stresses the neutrality of tax basis switches, which simply reflect moving between consumption and production taxes, but neutrality only holds when trade is balanced. In the unbalanced trade case for countries with a trade surplus, such as China, an origin basis offers a lower tax rate on an equal yield basis and reduced exports. We use a two country endogenous trade imbalance general equilibrium global trade model with endogenous factor supply, a fixed exchange rate and a non-accommodative monetary policy structure which supports the Chinese trade imbalance. We calibrate model parameters to 2008 data and simulate counterfactual equilibria for VAT tax basis switches in which the trade imbalance changes. Our results suggest that given China's trade surplus VAT regime switching to an origin can decrease China's trade surplus by over 50%, and additionally increase Chinese and world welfare. The rest of the world's production and welfare improves simultaneously.

Suggested Citation

  • Chunding Li & John Whalley, 2011. "Rebalancing and the Chinese VAT: Some Numerical Simulation Results," NBER Working Papers 16686, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16686
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    1. Genser, Bernd, 1996. " A Generalized Equivalence Property of Mixed International VAT Regimes," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(2), pages 253-262, June.
    2. Dong Yan & Whalley John, 2011. "Model Structure and the Combined Welfare and Trade Effects of China's Trade Related Policies," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 10(4), pages 1-21, January.
    3. Martin Feldstein, 1974. "Incidence of a Capital Income Tax in a Growing Economy with Variable Savings Rates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 41(4), pages 505-513.
    4. Berglas, Eitan, 1981. "Harmonization of commodity taxes : Destination, origin and restricted origin principles," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 377-387, December.
    5. Shoven,John B. & Whalley,John, 1992. "Applying General Equilibrium," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521266550.
    6. Whalley, John, 1979. "Uniform domestic tax rates, trade distortions and economic integration," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 213-221, March.
    7. Alfredo M. Pereira, 1995. "Equal Yield Tax Alternatives and Government Deficits," Public Finance Review, , vol. 23(1), pages 40-71, January.
    8. Grossman, Gene M., 1980. "Border tax adjustments: Do they distort trade?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 117-128, February.
    9. Ben Lockwood & David Meza & Gareth Myles, 1994. "When are origin and destination regimes equivalent?," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 1(1), pages 5-24, February.
    10. Shoven, John B. & Whalley, John, 1977. "Equal yield tax alternatives : General equillibrium computational techniques," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 211-224, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Qi, Tianyu & Winchester, Niven & Karplus, Valerie J. & Zhang, Xiliang, 2014. "Will economic restructuring in China reduce trade-embodied CO2 emissions?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 204-212.
    2. Li, Chunding & Wang, Jing & Whalley, John, 2016. "Impact of mega trade deals on China: A computational general equilibrium analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 13-25.
    3. John Whalley, 2012. "External Sector Rebalancing and Endogenous Trade Imbalance Models," Contemporary Economics, University of Finance and Management in Warsaw, vol. 6(4), December.
    4. Chunding Li & Jing Wang & John Whalley, 2014. "Numerical General Equilibrium Analysis of China's Impacts from Possible Mega Trade Deals," NBER Working Papers 20425, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance
    • F47 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications

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