Dispelling Some Misconceptions About Agricultural Trade Liberalization

There has been a great deal of public discussion over the impact that agricultural trade liberalization would likely have, especially on low-income countries. Unfortunately, the public discussion has been characterized by a number of misconceptions. This paper provides a clarifying discussion of the issues involved. Among the key points addressed are 1) agricultural subsidies are not nearly as large as has been portrayed; 2) tariffs are actually far more distortionary than subsidies and some low-income countries actually benefit from rich country subsides; and 3) widespread tariff reductions will not inflict large damage on developing countries as a result of preference erosion. The case for removing agricultural trade barriers remains compelling, even without the exaggerations and misconceptions.

Dispelling Some Misconceptions about Agricultural Trade Liberalization’, StephenTokarickJournal of Economic Perspectives, 22(1) (2008): 199–216. Published by American Economic Association. Reprinted with permission.
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