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Trade Liberalization in Primary and Processed Agricultural Products: Should Developing Countries Favour Tariff or Domestic Support Reductions?

Lota Tamini (), Pascal Ghazalian, Jean-Philippe Gervais () and Bruno Larue

International Economic Journal, 2012, vol. 26, issue 1, 85-107

Abstract: Developing Countries (DCs) have remained firm in the current WTO negotiations regarding their demand for significant agricultural trade liberalization. This stance has undoubtedly delayed the conclusion of the Doha Round and one might wonder whether DCs are not depriving themselves from valuable gains from trade by holding out. In line with the theory of second best, we show that too little liberalization could be immiserizing for DCs through numerical simulations of a three-country theoretical trade model of primary agricultural commodities and processed foods. Our model departs from most other models by accounting for vertical linkages and by linking welfare outcomes to parameterized supply-side rigidities at the farm level, which imply that primary goods cannot be substituted costlessly across export destinations, and imperfect substitution between processed foods. While in simpler models DCs can get larger welfare gains from multilateral tariff reductions than from domestic support reductions, our simulations show that this instrument ranking can be reversed. Under a wide range of parameter values, the DC would support a trade agreement only if the latter calls for ambitious tariff cuts. This outcome is consistent with the positions of DCs in the current round of multilateral negotiations over agriculture.

Date: 2012
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DOI: 10.1080/10168737.2010.526954

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