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Measuring Nontariff Trade Policies

  • Robert E. Baldwin

This paper surveys and critiques various methods of measuring nontariff trade measures (NTMs) for the purpose of determining which seem most promising for facilitating the process of reducing the trade-distorting effects of such policies through multilateral negotiations. Four measurement methods are analyzed: price-impact measures, quantity-impact measures, frequency-type measures, and welfare measures. The general conclusion is that, despite a host of difficulties, theoretical and empirical analysis has progressed sufficiently far to enable reasonable measures of nontariff policies to be made that are useful for assessing relative sectoral protection across countries and monitoring changes in protection and subsidization levels over time. Tariff and subsidy equivalents, preferably determined by directly comparing distorted and non-distorted prices, are the most useful forms of measurement, since they focus on the price-distorting effects of NTMs and are also concepts with which public and private officials are already familiar. However, the various other types of measures can be valuable in supplementing the information obtained from tariff and subsidy equivalents.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2978.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2978.

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Date of creation: May 1989
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Publication status: published as Trade Theory and Economic Reform, de Melo, Jaime and Andre Sapir, eds., Oxford: Basil Blockwell, 1991.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2978
Note: ITI IFM
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.orgEmail:


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  1. Grossman, Gene M., 1986. "Imports as a cause of injury: The case of the U.S. steel industry," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(3-4), pages 201-223, May.
  2. Bela Balassa, 1965. "Tariff Protection in Industrial Countries: An Evaluation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 73, pages 573.
  3. Hamilton, Carl, 1986. "An Assessment of Voluntary Restraints on Hong Kong Exports to Europe and the USA," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 53(211), pages 339-50, August.
  4. Jagdish N. Bhagwati & T. N. Srinivasan, 1975. "Foreign Trade Regimes and Economic Development: India," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bhag75-1, October.
  5. Alan V. Deardorff & Robert M. Stern, 1997. "Measurement of Non-Tariff Barriers," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 179, OECD Publishing.
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