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The Costs of Restrictive Trade Policies in the Presence of Factor Tax Distortions

  • Parry, Ian

    ()

    (Resources for the Future)

This paper uses a numerical general equilibrium model to examine the quantitative importance of pre-existing factor tax distortions for the welfare effects of restrictive trade policies in economies with and without market power in trade. We analyze tariffs, non-auctioned import quotas (with rents accruing to domestic firms) and voluntary export restraints (with rents accruing to foreign firms). We find that allowing for interactions with pre-existing taxes can greatly magnify the overall costs of these policies - possibly by over several hundred percent! In the case of import tariffs, much of this additional cost can be offset if the tariff revenues are used to reduce other distortionary taxes. Indeed the cost discrepancy between revenue-neutral tariffs and import quotas is dramatic at modest levels of import reduction, but declines to zero as these policies become prohibitive. We find that the optimal tariff for a country with market power in trade is greatly reduced, and possibly to zero, unless tariff revenues finance cuts in other distorting taxes. The proportionate increase in costs due to pre-existing taxes is much smaller under voluntary export restraints than under import quotas when costs are measured by domestic welfare losses, but not when measured by world welfare losses.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-98-37.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 1998
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-98-37
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  1. Enrique G. Mendoza & Assaf Razin & Linda L. Tesar, 1994. "Effective Tax Rates in Macroeconomics: Cross-Country Estimates of Tax Rates on Factor Incomes and Consumption," NBER Working Papers 4864, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lawrence Goulder, 1995. "Environmental taxation and the double dividend: A reader's guide," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 2(2), pages 157-183, August.
  3. Arnold C. Harberger, 1962. "The Incidence of the Corporation Income Tax," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 215.
  4. Horst Siebert, 1997. "Labor Market Rigidities: At the Root of Unemployment in Europe," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 37-54, Summer.
  5. Dixit, Avinash, 1985. "Tax policy in open economies," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 6, pages 313-374 Elsevier.
  6. Browning, Edgar K., 1994. "The non-tax wedge," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(3), pages 419-433, March.
  7. Ian Parry, 2001. "The Costs of Restrictive Trade Policies in the Presence of Factor Tax Distortions," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 147-170, March.
  8. Ian W. H. Parry & Roberton C. Williams III & Lawrence H. Goulder, 1997. "When Can Carbon Abatement Policies Increase Welfare? The Fundamental Role of Distorted Factor Markets," NBER Working Papers 5967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Angus Deaton, 1979. "Optimal Taxes and the Structure of Preferences," Working Papers 506, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Krueger, Anne O, 1974. "The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 64(3), pages 291-303, June.
  11. Robert C. Feenstra, 1992. "How Costly Is Protectionism?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-178, Summer.
  12. Parry, Ian & Oates, Wallace, 1998. "Policy Analysis in a Second-Best World," Discussion Papers dp-98-48, Resources For the Future.
  13. Baldwin, Robert E, 1992. "Are Economists' Traditional Trade Policy Views Still Valid?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 804-29, June.
  14. Browning, Edgar K, 1987. "On the Marginal Welfare Cost of Taxation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(1), pages 11-23, March.
  15. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1990. "Supply-Side Economics: An Analytical Review," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, April.
  16. Robin Boadway & Shlomo Maital & Martin Prachowny, 1973. "Optimal Tariffs, Optimal Taxes and Public Goods," Working Papers 120, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  17. Parry, Ian W. H., 1997. "Environmental taxes and quotas in the presence of distorting taxes in factor markets," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-220, August.
  18. Ian W.H. Parry & Wallace E. Oates, 2000. "Policy analysis in the presence of distorting taxes," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4), pages 603-613.
  19. Ballard, Charles L & Shoven, John B & Whalley, John, 1985. "General Equilibrium Computations of the Marginal Welfare Costs of Taxes in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 128-38, March.
  20. Bhagwati, Jagdish N, 1982. "Directly Unproductive, Profit-seeking (DUP) Activities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 988-1002, October.
  21. Williams III, Roberton C., 1999. "Revisiting the cost of protectionism:: The role of tax distortions in the labor market," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 429-447, April.
  22. Lawrence H. Goulder & Ian W. H. Parry & Dallas Burtraw, 1996. "Revenue-Raising vs. Other Approaches to Environmental Protection: The Critical Significance of Pre-Existing Tax Distortions," NBER Working Papers 5641, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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