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Icebergs versus Tariffs: A Quantitative Perspective on the Gains from Trade

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  • Jung, Benjamin
  • Felbermayr, Gabriel
  • Larch, Mario

Abstract

We derive a simple equation for the welfare gains from trade when tariffs are liberalized or iceberg trade costs fall. Covering various one-sector trade models that may or may not feature extensive margins and imperfect competition, we generalize the analysis of Arkolakis, Costinot and Rodriguez-Clare (2012) to encompass revenue-generating import tariffs. Our formula permits easy quantification based on countries' observed degrees of openness, their tariff revenues, and gravity elasticities. We show analytically that an analysis based on iceberg costs necessarily underestimates the welfare gains from trade relative to autarky. Our quantitative exercise for 41 countries suggests that the bias can be numerically significant. For countries with relatively high status quo tariffs, our formula predicts 30-60\% larger gains from trade than the icebergs only approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Jung, Benjamin & Felbermayr, Gabriel & Larch, Mario, 2013. "Icebergs versus Tariffs: A Quantitative Perspective on the Gains from Trade," VfS Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79707, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79707
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    7. Costas Arkolakis & Svetlana Demidova & Peter J. Klenow & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2008. "Endogenous Variety and the Gains from Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 444-450, May.
    8. Demidova, Svetlana & Rodríguez-Clare, Andrés, 2009. "Trade policy under firm-level heterogeneity in a small economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 100-112, June.
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    10. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2012. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 94-130, February.
    11. Costinot, Arnaud & Rodríguez-Clare, Andrés, 2014. "Trade Theory with Numbers: Quantifying the Consequences of Globalization," Handbook of International Economics, in: Gopinath, G. & Helpman, . & Rogoff, K. (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 197-261, Elsevier.
    12. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Jung, Benjamin & Larch, Mario, 2013. "Optimal tariffs, retaliation, and the welfare loss from tariff wars in the Melitz model," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 13-25.
    13. Balistreri, Edward J. & Markusen, James R., 2009. "Sub-national differentiation and the role of the firm in optimal international pricing," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 47-62, January.
    14. Philipp J. H. Schröder & Allan Sørensen, 2014. "A Welfare Ranking of Multilateral Reductions in Real and Tariff Trade Barriers when Firms are Heterogenous," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 423-443, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Haaland, Jan I. & Venables, Anthony J., 2016. "Optimal trade policy with monopolistic competition and heterogeneous firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 85-95.
    2. Lastauskas, Povilas, 2013. "Europe's revolving doors: Import competition and endogenous firm entry institutions," Kiel Advanced Studies Working Papers 464, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    3. Costinot, Arnaud & Rodríguez-Clare, Andrés, 2014. "Trade Theory with Numbers: Quantifying the Consequences of Globalization," Handbook of International Economics, in: Gopinath, G. & Helpman, . & Rogoff, K. (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 197-261, Elsevier.
    4. Kohler Wilhelm & Jung Benjamin, 2017. "Wie vorteilhaft ist internationaler Handel?: Ein neuer Ansatz zur Vermessung der Gewinne," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 18(1), pages 32-55, April.

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    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation

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