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The economics of U.S. ethanol import tariffs with a consumption mandate and tax credit

Harry de Gorter () and David Just

MPRA Paper from University Library of Munich, Germany

Abstract: This paper analyzes the impact of an ethanol import tariff in conjunction with a consumption mandate and tax credit. A tax credit alone acts as a subsidy to ethanol producers, equally benefiting exporters like Brazil. If an import tariff is imposed to offset the tax credit, world prices of ethanol decline by less than the tariff (unless oil prices are unaffected). Eliminating the tariff with a tax credit in place results in a significant gain to exporters like Brazil but eliminating the tax credit too reduces the initial benefits to Brazil of the tariff reduction substantially. The results change however if there is “water” in the tax credit. Then exporters benefit much more with the elimination of both the tariff and tax credit compared to a situation of both policies in place. If only a mandate was in place, exporters like Brazil again benefit as much as domestic ethanol producers do. Eliminating the tariff with a mandate results in an increase in domestic ethanol prices (even if oil prices do not change) because more domestic supply is required to maintain the mandate. The tariff therefore has a smaller negative impact on world ethanol prices with a mandate compared to a tax credit. A tax credit with a binding mandate is a subsidy to fuel consumers and only indirectly benefits ethanol producers if ethanol prices increase due to increased demand for ethanol with the increase in fuel consumption). Therefore, eliminating the tax credit with a binding mandate has little effect on market prices of ethanol – domestic and foreign producers alike benefit very little with a tax credit in this situation. Brazil would much prefer the elimination of the tax credit and the so-called offsetting import tariff when a mandate is binding. Hence, the protective effects of an import tariff are not additive with either a tax credit or the price premium due to a mandate.

Keywords: biofuels; mandate; tax credit; ethanol; tariff (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q42 F13 Q18 Q17 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2007-10-24
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-ene and nep-env
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (8) Track citations by RSS feed

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Working Paper: The Economics of U.S. Ethanol Import Tariffs with a Consumption Mandate and Tax Credit (2007) Downloads
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