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International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
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Mr. Reint Gropp, Mr. Liam P. Ebrill, and Ms. Janet Gale Stotsky

Abstract

In recent decades many countries have dismantled trade barriers and opened their economies to international competition. Trade liberalization is seen to promote economic efficiency, international competitiveness, and an expansion of trade, perhaps especially in imperfectly competitive markets.1 Yet despite this progress in trade liberalization, as evidenced by the conclusion of the Uruguay Round in 1994 and the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995,2 trade barriers are still widespread. Some economies and some sectors (e.g., agriculture in many industrial countries) remain relatively insulated from the global economy by a variety of non tariff and tariff barriers, even as import substitution continues to lose ground as a strategy for economic development.

Mr. Reint Gropp, Mr. Liam P. Ebrill, and Ms. Janet Gale Stotsky

Abstract

Economists often rank trade liberalization reforms by order of importance, giving highest priority to the reduction or removal of quantitative restrictions and other non tariff barriers to trade or their conversion to tariffs. This is followed by reductions in both the number of distinct tariff rates and the range that they cover (i.e., their dispersion) and finally by reductions in the levels of tariffs. Although this liberalization strategy is typically justified on economic efficiency grounds (Box 1), the initial focus on the removal of non tariff barriers also has the advantage of helping preserve the revenue yield. The agenda for trade reform is also influenced by international practice and agreements and, in particular, by WTO rules and agreements on the design of trade reform.1

Mr. Reint Gropp, Mr. Liam P. Ebrill, and Ms. Janet Gale Stotsky

Abstract

This section considers the interplay between trade liberalization and revenue from international trade taxes in recent decades. The intent is to review what has actually occurred, in order to gain insight into the factors that govern the revenue consequences of trade liberalization and the related issue of how countries have pursued liberalization.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
The Web edition of the IMF Survey is updated several times a week, and contains a wealth of articles about topical policy and economic issues in the news. Access the latest IMF research, read interviews, and listen to podcasts given by top IMF economists on important issues in the global economy. www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/home.aspx
Mr. Reint Gropp, Mr. Liam P. Ebrill, and Ms. Janet Gale Stotsky

Abstract

The association between trade liberalization and economic growth underscores the importance of ensuring that fiscal considerations do not constrain the pace of trade reform. This study has examined the effect of trade liberalization on government revenue. The strategy has been to determine the revenue implications of trade reform in practice by taking three complementary approaches: a comparative analysis of reforms in selected countries, a simple examination of trends in a broad range of countries, and econometric analysis.

Mr. Reint Gropp, Mr. Liam P. Ebrill, and Ms. Janet Gale Stotsky

Abstract

The apparent contradiction between trade liberalization and continuing high trade tax revenue raises the important question of how, precisely, the one affects the other. Although policymakers generally recognize the long-term benefits of trade liberalization, some have argued for at least a slower pace, in part because of revenue concerns. This paper seeks to address these issues in three complimentary ways: through an overview of the factors that may have a bearing on the question, through a review of trends in trade tax revenue both globally and in selected countries, and through econometric analysis.