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

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

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.

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Paper provided by Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association in its series Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order with number 79707.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79707
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  1. Matthieu Crozet & Pamina Koenig, 2008. "Structural Gravity Equations with Intensive and Extensive Margins," Working Papers 2008-30, CEPII research center.
  2. Gabriel J. Felbermayr & Benjamin Jung & Mario Larch, 2011. "Optimal Tariffs, Retaliation and the Welfare Loss from Tariff Wars in the Melitz Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 3474, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Philipp J.H. Schröder & Allan Sørensen, 2011. "A welfare ranking of multilateral reductions in real and tariff trade barriers when firms are heterogenous," Economics Working Papers 2011-18, School of Economics and Management, University of Aarhus.
  5. Edward J. Balistreri & James R. Markusen, 2007. "Sub-national Differentiation and the Role of the Firm in Optimal International Pricing," NBER Working Papers 13130, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. 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.
  7. Daniel Yi Xu, 2013. "Competition, Markups, and the Gains from International Trade," 2013 Meeting Papers 653, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Neary, J Peter, 1991. "Cost Asymmetries in International Subsidy Games: Should Governments Help Winners or Losers?," CEPR Discussion Papers 560, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Russell H. Hillberry & Edward J. Balistreri & Thomas F. Rutherford, 2007. "Structural Estimation and Solution of International Trade Models with Heterogeneous Firms," DEGIT Conference Papers c012_038, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
  10. Chris Edmond, Virgiliu Midrigan, Daniel Yi Xu,, 2012. "Competition, Markups, and the Gains from," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1145, The University of Melbourne.
  11. Alvarez, Fernando & Lucas, Robert Jr., 2007. "General equilibrium analysis of the Eaton-Kortum model of international trade," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 1726-1768, September.
  12. Costinot, Arnaud & Rodriguez-Clare, Andres, 2013. "Trade Theory with Numbers: Quantifying the Consequences of Globalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 9398, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Matthew T. Cole, 2011. "Distorted Trade Barriers," Working Papers 201105, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  14. 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.
  15. 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 444-50, May.
  16. Ralph Ossa, 2012. "Why Trade Matters After All," NBER Working Papers 18113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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