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  • Empirical Studies of Trade x
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Sergii Meleshchuk and Mr. Yannick Timmer
In this paper we demonstrate the importance of distinguishing capital goods tariffs from other tariffs. Using exposure to a quasi-natural experiment induced by a trade reform in Colombia, we find that firms that have been more exposed to a reduction in intermediate and consumption input or output tariffs do not significantly increase their investment rates. However, firms’ investment rate increase strongly in response to a reduction in capital goods input tariffs. Firms do not substitute capital with labor, but instead also increase employment, especially for production workers. Reduction in other tariff rates do not increase investment and employment. Our results suggest that a reduction in the relative price of capital goods can significantly boost investment and employment and does not seem to lead to a decline in the labor share.
Mr. Francisco Roch
This paper presents a comparative analysis of the macroeconomic adjustment in Chile, Colombia, and Peru to commodity terms-of-trade shocks. The study is done in two steps: (i) an analysis of the impulse responses of key macroeconomic variables to terms-of-trade shocks and (ii) an event study of the adjustment to the recent decline in commodity prices. The experiences of these countries highlight the importance of flexible exchange rates to help with the adjustment to lower commodity prices, and staying vigilant in addressing depreciation pressures on inflation through tightening monetary policies. On the fiscal front, evidence shows that greater fiscal space, like in Chile and Peru, gives more room for accommodating terms-of-trade shocks.
Petia Topalova
Using a panel of firm-level data, this paper examines the effects of India's trade reforms in the early 1990s on firm productivity in the manufacturing sector, focusing on the interaction between this policy shock and firm and environment characteristics. The rapid and comprehensive tariff reductions-part of an IMF-supported adjustment program with India in 1991-allow us to establish a causal link between variations in inter-industry and intertemporal tariffs and consistently estimated firm productivity. Specifically, reductions in trade protectionism lead to higher levels and growth of firm productivity, with this effect strongest for private companies. Interestingly, state-level characteristics, such as labor regulations, investment climate, and financial development, do not appear to influence the effect of trade liberalization on firm productivity.
Mr. Ali Ibrahim, Mr. Arvind Subramanian, and Mr. Luis A. Torres-Castro
This paper examines the theory underpinning the design of optimal tariffs in a developing economy, and the experience of implementation of tariff reforms. A central issue is whether and when a case can be made for a uniform tariff structure. While theory advocates a differentiated tariff structure (except under a balance of payments objective), political economy considerations, inadequate information, and administrative convenience point to a minimally differentiated tariff structure. The experience of reform indicates that tariff structures are mainly influenced by income distribution and protection objectives. The ability to successfully reduce tariffs depends on measures taken to alleviate fiscal and balance of payments constraints.