More Pain, More Gain: Politics and Economics of Eliminating Tariffs

Policy Brief
03-8
June 2003

A good proposal to eliminate tariffs must take into account both the pain and gain that developing countries are likely to experience. The authors take the measure of these costs and benefits and urge rich countries to maximize the benefits to developing countries while giving them ample time to accept, and adjust to, the changes that trade liberalization will require. But trade liberalization should not stop with tariff proposals. The United States and other industrial countries should generously reduce subsidies to farmers and eliminate nontariff barriers on agricultural imports. The United States should offer more concessions on services trade, particularly in its allowances for temporary foreign workers. Unless rich countries put more on the table, a WTO agreement to eliminate tariff barriers may be postponed for years.