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Tariff Passthrough at the Border and at the Store: Evidence from US Trade Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Alberto Cavallo
  • Gita Gopinath
  • Brent Neiman
  • Jenny Tang

Abstract

We use micro data collected at the border and at retailers to characterize the effects of recent changes in US trade policy -- particularly the tariffs placed on imports from China -- on importers, consumers, and exporters. We start by documenting that the tariffs were almost fully passed through to total prices paid by importers, suggesting that incidence has fallen largely on the United States. Since we estimate the response of prices to exchange rates to be far more muted, the recent depreciation of China’s renminbi is unlikely to alter this conclusion. Next, using product-level data from several large retailers, we demonstrate that the tariffs’ impact on retail prices is more mixed. Some affected product categories have seen sharp price increases, but the difference between affected and unaffected products is generally quite modest, suggesting that retail margins have fallen. These retailers' imports increased after the initial announcement of possible tariffs, but before their full implementation, so the intermediate passthrough of tariffs to their prices may not persist. Finally, in contrast to the case of foreign exporters facing US tariffs, we show that US exporters lowered their prices on goods subjected to foreign retaliatory tariffs compared to exports of non-targeted goods.

Suggested Citation

  • Alberto Cavallo & Gita Gopinath & Brent Neiman & Jenny Tang, 2019. "Tariff Passthrough at the Border and at the Store: Evidence from US Trade Policy," NBER Working Papers 26396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:26396
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cole, Matthew T. & Eckel, Carsten, 2018. "Tariffs and markups in retailing," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 139-153.
    2. Redding, Stephen & Amiti, Mary & Weinstein, David, 2019. "The impact of the 2018 trade war on U.S. prices and welfare," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 102619, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Gita Gopinath & Emine Boz & Camila Casas & Federico J. Díez & Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas & Mikkel Plagborg-Møller, 2020. "Dominant Currency Paradigm," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 110(3), pages 677-719, March.
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    5. Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2016. "The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 151-178, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Xavier Jaravel & Erick Sager, 2019. "What are the Price Effects of Trade? Evidence from the US and Implications for Quantitative Trade Models," CEP Discussion Papers dp1642, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    2. Yew‐Kwang Ng, 2020. "Why Does the US Face Greater Disadvantages in the Trade War with China?," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 28(2), pages 113-122, March.
    3. Lionel Fontagné & Cecilia Bellora, 2019. "Shooting oneself in the foot? US trade policy coping with Global Value Chains," Post-Print hal-02128135, HAL.
    4. Mary Amiti & Stephen J. Redding & David E. Weinstein, 2020. "Who's Paying for the US Tariffs? A Longer-Term Perspective," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 110, pages 541-546, May.
    5. Kyle Handley & Fariha Kamal & Ryan Monarch, 2020. "Rising Import Tariffs, Falling Export Growth: When Modern Supply Chains Meet Old-Style Protectionism," NBER Working Papers 26611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Wijesinghe, Asanka S., 2020. "Retaliatory Tariff and 2018 Mid Term Election: Was there an effect of Chinese soybeans Tariff ?," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304505, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    7. 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.
    8. Chen, Natalie & Juvenal, Luciana, 2019. "Markups, Quality, and Trade Costs," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1233, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    9. Michael E. Waugh, 2019. "The Consumption Response to Trade Shocks: Evidence from the US-China Trade War," NBER Working Papers 26353, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Chen, Natalie & Juvenal, Luciana, 2019. "Markups, Quality, and Trade Costs," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 446, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    11. Javorcik, Beata & Kett, Benjamin & O'Kane, Layla & Stapleton, Katherine, 2019. "Unravelling Trade Integration: Local Labour Market Effects of the Brexit Vote," CEPR Discussion Papers 14222, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Blanchard, Emily & Bown, Chad P. & CHOR, HAN PING DAVIN, 2019. "Did Trump's Trade War Impact the 2018 Election?," CEPR Discussion Papers 14091, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Huang, Yi & Lin, Chen & Liu, Sibo & Tang, Heiwai, 2019. "Trade Networks and Firm Value: Evidence from the US-China Trade War," CEPR Discussion Papers 14173, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Fiorentini, Riccardo, 2020. "The Persisting US Trade Deficit: Is Protectionistm the Right Answer?," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 73(2), pages 155-186.
    15. Lionel Fontagné & Houssein Guimbard & Gianluca Orefice, 2020. "Product-Level Trade Elasticities: Worth Weighting For," Working Papers DT/2020/08, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    16. 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.
    17. Bekkers, Eddy & Schroeter, Sofia, 2020. "An economic analysis of the US-China trade conflict," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2020-04, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
    18. Cecilia Bellora & Lionel Fontagné, 2019. "Shooting Oneself in the Foot? Trade War and Global Value Chains," Working Papers 2019-18, CEPII research center.
    19. Carter, Colin A. & Steinbach, Sandro, 2020. "The Impact of Retaliatory Tariffs on Agricultural and Food Trade," 2020 Annual Meeting, July 26-28, Kansas City, Missouri 304367, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    20. Amy Finkelstein & Nathaniel Hendren, 2020. "Welfare Analysis Meets Causal Inference," NBER Working Papers 27640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Jaravel, Xavier & Sager, Erick, 2019. "What are the price effects of trade? Evidence from the US for quantitative trade models," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 103402, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    22. Aaron Flaaen & Justin R. Pierce, 2019. "Disentangling the Effects of the 2018-2019 Tariffs on a Globally Connected U.S. Manufacturing Sector," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2019-086, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F01 - International Economics - - General - - - Global Outlook
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F4 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance

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