The Gatt's Starting Point: Tariff Levels Circa 1947

30 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2015 Last revised: 4 Jan 2016

See all articles by Chad P. Bown

Chad P. Bown

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Douglas A. Irwin

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: December 2015

Abstract

How high were import tariffs when GATT participants began negotiations to reduce them in 1947? Establishing this starting point is key to determining how successful the GATT has been in bringing down trade barriers. If the average tariff level was about 40 percent, as commonly reported, the implied early tariff reductions were substantial, but this number has never been verified. This paper examines the evidence on tariff levels in the late 1940s and early 1950s and finds that the average tariff level going into the first Geneva Round of 1947 was about 22 percent. We also find that tariffs fell by relatively more in the late 1940s and early 1950s for a core group of GATT participants (the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia) than they did for many other important countries, including the set of other (non-core) GATT participants.

Suggested Citation

Bown, Chad P. and Irwin, Douglas A., The Gatt's Starting Point: Tariff Levels Circa 1947 (December 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w21782. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2700011

Chad P. Bown (Contact Author)

Peterson Institute for International Economics ( email )

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United States

Douglas A. Irwin

Dartmouth College - Department of Economics ( email )

6106 Rockefeller Hall
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603-646-2942 (Phone)
603-646-2122 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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United States

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