The protective effect of EU agricultural tariffs

The 2019 EU Trade Policy Review was recently published by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The trade policy review process takes place every two years for major economies and is an important transparency tool. The country under review produces a policy report summarising major trade policy developments since the last review. A second report is written independently by the WTO Secretariat. These reports are then discussed by the full membership in the WTO’s Trade Policy Review Body. Indeed, the EU received more than 1,600 written questions from other WTO members on these reports to which it has provided written answers (unfortunately, the latter files are restricted and not publicly available on the WTO website).

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Which EU countries will bear the brunt of a hard Brexit?

The withdrawal of the UK from the EU (Brexit) will have a negative economic effect both for the UK but also for the EU. The size of these negative effects will depend, in part, on the nature of the future trade relationship that may be negotiated if the Article 50 negotiations on withdrawal are successfully concluded and, in part, on the nature of the transition arrangements, if any, that may be agreed to bridge the period between Brexit Day and the entry into force of a future trade agreement.
The UK government’s objective for the long-term relationship remains that set out in the Lancaster House speech last January, namely, withdrawal from the Single Market and from any type of customs union with the EU, but agreement on an ambitious free trade agreement.
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WTO EU Trade Policy Review 2013

Every two years the WTO secretariat undertakes a review of the EU’s trade policy including agricultural policy measures which affect trade. The agricultural section of the review builds on the EU’s notifications to the WTO under various agreements, notably the Agreement on Agriculture (particularly the notifications on domestic support, export subsidies and tariff rate quota utilisation) and the notification under the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. The latest EU trade policy review for 2013 was released last week following discussion in the WTO Trade Policy Review Committee.
The Trade Policy Review provides succinct summaries of the relevant EU farm legislation and policy instruments, even if some of its data (for example, on levels of domestic support) are a little outdated because of the time required to submit the relevant notifications.
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OECD reports EU farm transfers at lowest level ever

The OECD produced the 2012 edition of its Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation report during the week. This is the publication that keeps tabs on the transfers to and from farmers and consumers as a result of government policy interventions. It also usually contains a chapter on a special theme, which this year is devoted to fostering innovation and productivity growth in agriculture.
General findings

The results are summarised in a series of indicators, of which the most well-known is the Producer Support Estimate (PSE) usually expressed in percentage terms. It measures the percentage of farm receipts in a country that is due to public policies.
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How the EU market looks to food exporters

In a recent post I looked at estimates of the overall level of protection to EU agriculture and how they compare to other countries. However, the EU trade regime is highly discriminatory. Different countries face different tariff regimes depending on the nature of any trade agreements they have with the EU or the preferential trade regime from which they benefit.
The average applied tariffs calculated in the MAcMap global tariff database I discussed in the previous post take account of these preferential tariffs. However, the published report only presents the overall EU average tariff. In this post, I make use of data from the WTO World Tariff Profiles to examine differences in the market access tariff barriers faced by different groups of exporting countries to the EU.
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Will the right tariff average stand up?

How heavily protected is EU agriculture by import tariffs? How does EU agricultural protection compare with other countries? To answer these apparently simple questions requires a huge amount of spadework, and we will see that there are different answers which can all lay claim to be ‘correct’. Fortunately, a joint team at the Centre d’Etudes Prospectives et d’ Informations Internationales (CEPII) in Paris and the International Trade Centre (ITC) in Geneva undertakes this necessary legwork and publishes their results every three years as the MAcMap-HS6 (Market Access Maps) global tariff database. MAcMap Version 3 covering tariff data for the year 2007 has just been published.
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How the CAP contributes to world market food price volatility

The contribution of export bans to the world food price spike in 2008 is now well-established, particularly for commodities such as rice (for example, see Abbott, 2012 and Sharma, 2011). Martin and Anderson (2012) have calculated that over the 2005-2008 period more than 45 per cent of the explained change in the international price of rice was due to changes in border restrictions that countries used in an attempt to insulate themselves from the initial increases in price.

Countries resort to export bans in an attempt to keep down the price of food to domestic consumers. When undertaken by countries whose level of trade is big enough to influence the world market price, then an export ban also has ramifications for other countries.

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