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A Theory of Optimal Tariffs under a Revenue Constraint

Author

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  • Tatsuo Hatta

    (CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

  • Yoshitomo Ogawa

    (School of Business and Economics, Kinki University)

Abstract

This paper examines the optimal tariff structure under a revenue constraint. When a fixed level of tax revenue has to be collected from the tariff alone, no adjustment in tariff rates can achieve an efficient resource allocation, even in a small open economy. Hence, the optimal tariff problem arises under a revenue constraint. We show that the revenue-constrained optimal tariff structure is characterized by the following two rules: (i) the optimal tariff rate is lower for the import good that is a closer substitute for the export good; and (ii) the stronger the cross-substitutability between imports, the closer the optimal tariff is to uniformity. This theoretically explains why empirical studies have shown that the efficiency loss from a uniform tariff structure is negligible.

Suggested Citation

  • Tatsuo Hatta & Yoshitomo Ogawa, 2003. "A Theory of Optimal Tariffs under a Revenue Constraint," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-202, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2003cf202
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    File URL: http://www.cirje.e.u-tokyo.ac.jp/research/dp/2003/2003cf202.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Jones, Ronald W & Scheinkman, Jose A, 1977. "The Relevance of the Two-Sector Production Model in Trade Theory," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(5), pages 909-935, October.
    2. Mirrlees, J. A., 1976. "Optimal tax theory : A synthesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 327-358, November.
    3. Heady, Christopher J. & Mitra, Pradeep K., 1987. "Distributional and revenue raising arguments for tariffs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 77-101, June.
    4. Dasgupta, Partha S & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1974. "Benefit-Cost Analysis and Trade Policies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(1), pages 1-33, Jan.-Feb..
    5. Panagariya, Arvind, 1992. "Input tariffs, duty drawbacks, and tariff reforms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 131-147, February.
    6. Diamond, Peter A & Mirrlees, James A, 1971. "Optimal Taxation and Public Production II: Tax Rules," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 61(3), pages 261-278, June.
    7. Lopez, Ramon & Panagariya, Arvind, 1992. "On the Theory of Piecemeal Tariff Reform: The Case of Pure Imported Intermediate Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 615-625, June.
    8. Keen, Michael & Ligthart, Jenny E., 2002. "Coordinating tariff reduction and domestic tax reform," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 489-507, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Knud Munk, 2008. "Tax-tariff reform with costs of tax administration," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 15(6), pages 647-667, December.
    2. MUNK Knud, "undated". "Administrative Costs and Optimal Diversions from Free Trade in a Small Open Economy," EcoMod2003 330700108, EcoMod.
    3. Tatsuo Hatta, 2004. "A Theory of Commodity Tax Reform under Revenue Constraint," The Japanese Economic Review, Japanese Economic Association, vol. 55(1), pages 1-16.

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