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Import demand elasticities and trade distortions

  • Hiau Looi Kee
  • Nicita, Alessandro
  • Olarreaga, Marcelo

To study the effects of tariffs on gross domestic product (GDP), one needs import demand elasticities at the tariff line level that are consistent with GDP maximization. These do not exist. The authors modify Kohli's (1991) GDP function approach to estimate demand elasticities for 4,625 imported goods in 117 countries. Following Anderson and Neary (1992, 1994) and Feenstra (1995), they use these estimates to construct theoretically sound trade restrictiveness indices, and GDP lossesassociated with existing tariff structures. Countries are revealed to be 30 percent more restrictive than their simple or import-weighted average tariffs would suggest. Thus, distortion is nontrivial. GDP losses are largest in China, Germany, India, Mexico, and the United States.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3452.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3452
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  1. James Harrigan, 1996. "Technology, Factor Supplies and International Specialization: Estimating the Neoclassical Model," NBER Working Papers 5722, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Bruce A. Blonigen & Wesley W. Wilson, 1999. "Explaining Armington: What Determines Substitutability Between Home and Foreign Goods?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 32(1), pages 1-21, February.
  14. Robert C. Feenstra, 1992. "How Costly Is Protectionism?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-178, Summer.
  15. Athukorala, Premachandra & Riedel, James, 1994. "Demand and Supply Factors in the Determination of NIE Exports: A Simultaneous Error-Correction Model for Hong Kong: A Comment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(427), pages 1411-14, November.
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