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Policy Liberalization and US Merchandise Trade Growth, 1980--2006

By Matthew Adler and Gary Clyde Hufbauer

Abstract

This working paper draws on historical and contemporary data on tariffs, nontariff barriers, and transportation costs (for the United States and its major trading partners) to estimate the role of policy liberalization in US merchandise trade growth over the period 1980 to 2006. Both partial equilibrium analysis and computable general equilibrium analysis are used to make the estimates. Both methods indicate that roughly 25 percent of US trade growth since 1980 can be attributed to policy liberalization. Policy liberalization plays a larger role in US export growth (35 to 40 percent) than US import growth (25 percent). According to these estimates, policy liberalization accounts for almost all US merchandise growth in excess of growth that can be explained by expanding GDP in the United States and abroad.International trade, policy liberalization, tariff liberalization, nontariff barriers, transportation costs

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