무역자유화 효과의 실증분석과 정책 대응: 소비자후생을 중심으로 (Empirical Analysis of Trade Liberalization: The Benefits to Korean Consumers)

189 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2013 Last revised: 27 Nov 2013

See all articles by Jin Kyo Suh

Jin Kyo Suh

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy

Chul Chung

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy

Joun Won Lee

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy

Yoon Seon Jeong

Independent

Date Written: August 29, 2013

Abstract

우리나라는 우루과이라운드 이행을 계기로 수입관세를 대폭 인하하는 등 지속적인 무역자유화를 추구해왔다. 특히 2000년대 초부터는 높은 수준의 포괄적인 동시다발적 FTA를 추진하여 적극적인 무역자유화 조치를 단행해왔다. 그 결과 우리나라의 평균 관세율은 1996년 11.3%에서 2011년 5.2%로 낮아졌다. 또한 주요 소비재의 국제가격이 상승했지만 이와 같은 관세인하 및 환율 효과 등에 힘입어 수입 소비재의 국내 도착가격이 실제로는 하락세를 나타냈다. 그럼에도 불구하고, 주요 수입재의 최종 소비자가격은 떨어지지 않았는데, 이는 국내 요인, 즉 수입 소비재의 공급독점적 특성 등 경쟁제한적인 수입소비재 시장구조와 국내 유통의 비효율성, 일부 소비자의 과시적 소비 등이 복합적으로 작용해서 나타난 결과이다. 한편 무역자유화의 소비자편익을 체감하지 못하는 또 다른 원인으로 우리가 사용하는 물가지수가 무역자유화로 인한 신상품의 등장이나 품질, 성능, 기능, 디자인 등의 변화를 적절히 반영하지 못한다는 점을 들 수 있다. 즉 물가지수가 상품다양성 증가로 인한 무역이익을 과소평가함으로써 소비자가 무역자유화의 혜택을 체감하기 어렵게 만든다. 결국 소비자들이 무역자유화로 인한 가격인하효과를 체감하기 어려운 원인으로 2000년 이후 농식품 국제가격 상승, 수입통관 이후 국내 유통과정에서의 경쟁제한적 시장구조, 상대적으로 낮은 소비재 수입비중, 상품다양성효과를 반영하지 못하는 물가지수의 왜곡 등을 지적할 수 있다. 상품다양성과 물가지수의 왜곡에 대해 실증분석을 통해 무역자유화의 소비자후생효과를 계측한 결과 GDP의 약 0.3%의 추가적인 무역이익이 있는 것으로 나타났다. 무역자유화에 따른 이익은 Feenstra(1994) 방법론을 활용하여 우리나라 주요 소비재 수입품에 대한 대체탄력성을 추정하고, 이를 기초로 상품다양성을 감안하여 추정한 결과이다. 이는 Mohler(2011)가 스위스 자료를 이용하여 측정한 스위스의 무역이익과 유사한 수준인 반면 미국 자료를 이용한 Broda and Weinstein(2006)의 연구결과보다는 낮은 편이다. 우리나라와 스위스의 무역이익 추정치가 미국보다 낮게 나타난 이유는 이 두 국가의 수입상품이 미국에 비해 상대적으로 차별화가 미흡한 점, 즉 우리나라나 스위스 자료를 이용하여 추정한 대체탄력성이 미국에 비해 크게 나왔기 때문이다. 한편 Arkolakis 외(2008)가 이론적으로 증명하고 Feenstra(2010)가 주요 국가에 대해 예시한 방법론을 적용하여 우리나라의 무역이익을 측정한 결과, 지난 20년간 상품다양성 증가로 인한 무역이익은 대체탄력성의 추정치에 따라 총수입비중을 사용할 경우 GDP의 8.3~21.7%인 것으로 나타났으며, 내수용 수입비중을 이용할 경우 GDP의 4.7~12.8%로 나타났다.자료 입수 및 조사가 가능한 대표적인 수입 소비재를 선정하여 통관이후 국내 유통단계에서의 유통경로와 단계별 마진을 조사한 결과 수입 소비재의 국내 유통은 공급독점이 일반적인 현상이며, 아울러 국산의 동종 또는 유사 상품과의 경쟁도 효과적이지 않아 무역자유화에 의한 가격인하효과가 최종 소비자가 아닌 수입상이나 중간유통업자에게 대부분 귀속되고 있었다. 즉 수입 소비재의 경우 대부분 국산 동종상품에 비해 2~3배의 과도한 유통마진이 형성되어 있었으며, 소매단계에서의 마진율이 높았다. 또한 같은 수입 소비재라 할지라도 국내에 소비경쟁이 가능한 상품이 있는 경우 수입 소비재의 마진율은 국내산과 큰 차이가 없었으며, 국내산 상품 또는 수입산끼리의 경쟁 관계 존재 유무가 유통마진에 영향을 주는 것으로 나타났다.

Trade liberalization benefits consumers because it gives them access to a larger number and a wider variety of products, at lower prices, than their home country could supply. The principals of comparative advantage and specialization are well known. Competition from the increased availability of imported goods to domestic consumers also forces domestic firms to offer competitive prices, to improve production efficiency, and to innovate. Trade liberalization also presents domestic firms the opportunity to export their products and services to other countries, stimulating domestic growth.

While consumers as a whole are winners from free trade through lower prices and greater varieties, however, certain groups such as displaced workers in the import competing sectors are adversely affected due to increased imports. Much of the existing literature concerning trade liberalization focuses on the impact of trade on aggregate variables, such as the growth of GDP and GDP per capita, or net welfare effect on the economy as a whole. Although there is a general recognition that trade liberalization benefits consumers, there is only a handful of empirical research that investigate the direct impact of trade liberalization on consumers.

In this study, we examine the economic impacts of trade liberalization and estimate the impact of increased variety on the consumer welfare. In particular, within a CES framework, we develop an import price index that is corrected for new and disappearing varieties, by employing Feenstra (1994)'s approach and using Korea’s trade data. New varieties lower the unit-costs depending on their substitutability with other varieties and their expenditure shares. Further, a case study on major consumer goods that are imported by Korea was conducted in this paper. We have investigated the marketing margin of these consumer goods from the border to final consumers and estimated the margin stage by stage for each marketing channel. Key findings of this paper are summarised as follows:

• Korea has continuously liberalized its domestic market since the mid 1980s. During the Uruguay Round (UR) negotiation and subsequent implementation process, Korea has reduced its bounded tariff voluntarily. As a result, the level of a weighted average tariff was reduced to 5.1 percent in 2011 from 11.3 percent in 1995. The reduction of import tariffs has contributed to the reduction of import prices denominated in domestic currency (Korean won). Nonetheless, final consumer prices do not show any trend of decline according to simple data plots in our investigation despite the reduction of import prices measured at the border. This tells us that there must be some price deteriorations in the process of domestic marketing channels for imported consumer goods.

• Although increased product variety is generally believed to bring welfare gains, standard national measures of welfare and prices do not assess how much better off consumers are when a new variety of an existing good or a new good becomes available. Both the import price index and the consumer price index (CPI) largely fail to capture the introduction of new varieties and the increase in the standard of living that new varieties bring about. Our recalculation of the import price index using Korean data suggests that the variety-adjusted index fell 20 percent faster than the conventional index between 1992 and 2011. To calculate the impact of variety growth on consumer welfare, we have to make an additional assumption about how the increased availability of foreign varieties affects domestic production. With the assumption that the number of domestic varieties is unchanged, we can proceed to estimate the impact of variety growth, due to the continuous expansion of trade liberalization on the well-being of Korean consumers. We found that the official import price index understates the rate of decline in import prices by 20 percent over the two decades from 1992 to 2011. If we take the average import share of Korean GDP for the past 20 years, which is 30 percent, then the value to consumers of the increase in global variety is in the range of 8.3 percent and 21.7 percent of GDP in 2011, or roughly 93 to 243 billion US dollars depending on the estimates of elasticities of substitution. This sum represents what consumers would be willing to pay to have access to the expanded set of varieties available in 2011.

• We have further investigated the domestic marketing channels of some major imported consumer goods. Main findings of the investigation are summarized as follows:

- Most of imported manufactured goods, in particular, small household appliances are supplied by only one company. In other words, an overseas affiliate has virtually the monopoly power on household appliances in the Korean market.

- The marketing margin of imported goods is in general two or three times higher than that of domestic products.

- The marketing margin generated at the retailing stage is higher than that at the wholesale stage.

- Fair competition is one of the effective ways to reduce marketing costs of the imported goods including the marketing margin. Policy implications derived from these findings are as follows:

• Fostering fair and competitive environments in the domestic market of the imported goods would be one of the most effective ways for reducing the marketing margin of the imported goods on the whole, and resulting in a decrease in consumer prices of those consumer goods, and hence ensuring gains from trade entertained by final consumers.

• Organized efforts by civil organizations and NGOs or consumer groups such as frequent consumer price reviews on imported goods and relevant monitoring activities should be encouraged for the benefits of consumers themselves.

Note: Downloadable document is in Korean.

Keywords: Trade liberalization benefits, consumers, consumer welfare, consumer price index, trade policy, gains from trade, Korea

Suggested Citation

Suh, Jin Kyo and Chung, Chul and Lee, Joun Won and Jeong, Yoon Seon, 무역자유화 효과의 실증분석과 정책 대응: 소비자후생을 중심으로 (Empirical Analysis of Trade Liberalization: The Benefits to Korean Consumers) (August 29, 2013). KIEP Research Paper No. Policy Analysis-12-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2317783 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2317783

Jin Kyo Suh (Contact Author)

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy ( email )

[30147] Building C, Sejong National Research Compl
Seoul, 370
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Chul Chung

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy ( email )

[30147] Building C, Sejong National Research Compl
Seoul, 370
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Joun Won Lee

Korea Institute for International Economic Policy ( email )

[30147] Building C, Sejong National Research Compl
Seoul, 370
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

Yoon Seon Jeong

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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