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The GATT's Starting Point: Tariff Levels circa 1947

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  • Chad P. Bown
  • Douglas A. Irwin

Abstract

How high were import tariffs when GATT participants began negotiations to reduce them in 1947? Establishing this starting point is key to determining how successful the GATT has been in bringing down trade barriers. If the average tariff level was about 40 percent, as commonly reported, the implied early tariff reductions were substantial, but this number has never been verified. This paper examines the evidence on tariff levels in the late 1940s and early 1950s and finds that the average tariff level going into the first Geneva Round of 1947 was about 22 percent. We also find that tariffs fell by relatively more in the late 1940s and early 1950s for a core group of GATT participants (the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia) than they did for many other important countries, including the set of other (non-core) GATT participants.

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  • Chad P. Bown & Douglas A. Irwin, 2015. "The GATT's Starting Point: Tariff Levels circa 1947," NBER Working Papers 21782, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21782
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    Cited by:

    1. Gene M. Grossman & Phillip McCalman & Robert W. Staiger, 2021. "The “New” Economics of Trade Agreements: From Trade Liberalization to Regulatory Convergence?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 89(1), pages 215-249, January.
    2. Qingyi Su & Chengwei Zang, 2020. "How Will the Implementation of Zero Tariffs Affect Employment in China?," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 28(2), pages 123-142, March.
    3. Jean‐Christophe Bureau & Houssein Guimbard & Sébastien Jean, 2019. "Agricultural Trade Liberalisation in the 21st Century: Has It Done the Business?," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(1), pages 3-25, February.
    4. Bown, Chad P. & Crowley, Meredith A, 2016. "The Empirical Landscape of Trade Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 11216, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Sakshi Aggarwal & Debashis Chakraborty, 2020. "Labour Market Adjustment and Intra-Industry Trade: Empirical Results from Indian Manufacturing Sectors," Journal of South Asian Development, , vol. 15(2), pages 238-269, August.

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    JEL classification:

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

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