Reforming non-tariff measures from evidence to policy advice

Finance & Investment
Typography
Abstract

The empirical case for trade as an engine of growth has now been established on solid empirical grounds. There has been a protracted controversy in the literature on the econometrics of trade and growth. Nonetheless, most recent estimates suggest that... See More + The empirical case for trade as an engine of growth has now been established on solid empirical grounds. There has been a protracted controversy in the literature on the econometrics of trade and growth. Nonetheless, most recent estimates suggest that a major episode of liberalization provides a permanent boost in growth on the order of 1 to 2 percent. Concomitantly, and largely on practical grounds, most low- and middle-income countries, with very few exceptions, have substantially lowered their trade barriers, eliminating the most egregious forms of trade protection (tariff peaks, quantitative restrictions, and other command-and-control instruments). Yet, by all accounts, trade costs remain high. Using an approach that consists of inverting the gravity equation and inferring trade costs from the relative size of external versus internal trade, Arvis and others (2013) and Novy (2013) show that trade costs have failed to fall as much for low-income countries as they have for others, reinforcing their economic ‘remoteness.’ Several multilateral initiatives have been set up to help low- and middle-income countries low-income ones, to integrate better in world trade. For instance, the Aid-for-Trade initiative was launched in 2005 to help low-income countries to cope with their Uruguay Round commitments, which were, in turn, expected to improve their ability to draw benefits from World Trade Organization (WTO) membership. More recently, the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) signed in December 2013 in Bali and entered into force in February 2017, was designed to help low and middle-income countries to focus on reducing non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade such as border delays, cumbersome regulations, and so on. The TFA is expected to focus governments’ attention on the various aspects of trade facilitation, including some that go beyond the written mandate of the TFA. Some of those aspects are technical issues of border management, such as reducing delays, computerizing customs transactions, and streamlining verification and payment procedures. Some others are more genuinely economic, such as streamlining NTBs and improving regulatory design through cost-benefit analysis. This volume discusses some of the analytical methods that can be used to accompany this process. Chapter two discusses the broad economic rationale for improving the design of NTMs. Chapter three illustrates the main forms of quantifying NTMs and their effects, including inventory approaches, price-based approaches, and quantity-based approaches. It also proposes a new analytical and measurable concept of regulatory distance to help in guiding deep integration efforts at the regional level. Chapter four discusses the effects of NTMs on household expenditures, poverty, and firm competitiveness. Chapter five illustrates how analysis of NTMs can be used to inform policy advice. Chapter six concludes.  See Less -

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