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Differentiated products and evasion of import tariffs

  • Javorcik, Beata S.
  • Narciso, Gaia

Emerging literature has demonstrated some unique characteristics of trade in differentiated products. This paper contributes to the literature by postulating that differentiated products may be subject to greater tariff evasion due to the difficulties associated with assessing their quality and price. Using product-level data on trade between Germany and 10 Eastern European countries during 1992-2003, the authors find empirical support for this hypothesis. They show that the trade gap, defined as the discrepancy between the value of exports reported by Germany and the value of imports from Germany reported by the importing country, is positively related to the level of tariff in 8 out of 10 countries. Further, the authors show that the responsiveness of the trade gap to the tariff level is greater for differentiated products than for homogeneous goods. A one-percentage-point increase in the tariff rate is associated with a 0.6 percent increase in the trade gap in the case of homogeneous products and a 2.1 percent increase in the case of differentiated products. Finally, the data indicate that greater tariff evasion observed for differentiated products tends to take place through misrepresentation of the import prices.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4123.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2007
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4123
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  1. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter Schott, 2008. "Transfer Pricing by U.S.-Based Multinational Firms," Working Papers 08-29, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  2. Besedes, Tibor & Prusa, Thomas J., 2006. "Product differentiation and duration of US import trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 339-358, December.
  3. Clotfelter, Charles T, 1983. "Tax Evasion and Tax Rates: An Analysis of Individual Returns," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 363-73, August.
  4. Raymond Fisman & Shang-Jin Wei, 2001. "Tax Rates and Tax Evasion: Evidence from "Missing Imports" in China," NBER Working Papers 8551, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Anderson, James E. & Neary, J. Peter, 2007. "Welfare versus market access: The implications of tariff structure for tariff reform," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 187-205, March.
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  7. Fink, Carsten & Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina, 2002. "Assessing the impact of communication costs on international trade," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2929, The World Bank.
  8. James E. Rauch & Vitor Trindade, 2002. "Ethnic Chinese Networks In International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 116-130, February.
  9. James E. Rauch & Alessandra Casella, 2003. "Overcoming Informational Barriers to International Resource Allocation: Prices and Ties," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(484), pages 21-42, January.
  10. James E. Rauch, 1996. "Networks versus Markets in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 5617, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Arvind Panagariya & Dani Rodrik, 1991. "Political-Economy Arguments for a Uniform Tariff," NBER Working Papers 3661, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Joel Slemrod & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2000. "Tax Avoidance, Evasion, and Administration," NBER Working Papers 7473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Robert C. Feenstra & James R. Markusen & Andrew K. Rose, 2001. "Using the gravity equation to differentiate among alternative theories of trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 430-447, May.
  14. Carolyn L. Evans, 2003. "The Economic Significance of National Border Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1291-1312, September.
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