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Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 22 No. 1 (Winter 2008)

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Dispelling Some Misconceptions about Agricultural Trade Liberalization

Article Citation

Tokarick, Stephen. 2008. "Dispelling Some Misconceptions about Agricultural Trade Liberalization." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 22(1): 199-216.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.22.1.199

Abstract

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.

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Tokarick, Stephen

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