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How Do China's Importing Firms Respond to Non‐tariff Measures?

Xiaodan Hu, Yunhua Tian, Yanping Zhou and Lu Feng

China & World Economy, 2021, vol. 29, issue 4, 89-112

Abstract: After the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, most countries gradually reduced their import tariffs to a fairly low level. However, the reduced tariffs could not be simply read as a reduction in trade barriers. Indeed, many suspect that countries tend to use more non‐tariff measures (NTMs), substituting them for tariff barriers, to protect their domestic economies. This paper uses newly compiled and detailed Chinese NTM data, together with highly disaggregated firm import data and manufacturing firm operational data, to investigate the impact of China's import‐related NTMs on firm imports. The main empirical results show that, as in the case of tariff barriers, China's trade policy NTMs mainly inhibit firms’ intermediate imports. In contrast, China's public policy NTMs significantly improve the intensive and extensive margins of firm's intermediate imports and raise the prices and quality of imported inputs. The greater the extent to which a firm engages in processing trade, the larger is the promoting effect of public policy NTMs on the firm's import margins for intermediate inputs, and the greater is the restricting effect on the prices and the quality of the firm's imported inputs.

Date: 2021
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