The Gatt's Starting Point: Tariff Levels Circa 1947

32 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2016 Last revised: 30 Apr 2018

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: April 26, 2016

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. It 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.

Keywords: International Trade and Trade Rules, Armed Conflict, Rules of Origin, Trade Policy, Trade and Multilateral Issues, Trade and Services

Suggested Citation

Bown, Chad P. and Irwin, Douglas A., The Gatt's Starting Point: Tariff Levels Circa 1947 (April 26, 2016). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7649. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2771471

Chad P. Bown (Contact Author)

Peterson Institute for International Economics ( email )

1750 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
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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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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