New Developments in Computable General Equilibrium Analysis for Trade Policy: Volume 7

Cover of New Developments in Computable General Equilibrium Analysis for Trade Policy

Table of contents

(20 chapters)

This series is aimed at economists and financial economists worldwide and will provide an in-depth look at current global topics. Each volume in the series will focus on specialized topics for greater understanding of the chosen subject and provide a detailed discussion of emerging issues. The target audiences are professional researchers, graduate students, and policy makers. It will offer cutting-edge views on new horizons and deepen the understanding in these emerging topics.

John Gilbert is a professor of economics in the Department of Economics and Finance, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, at Utah State University. He has worked as a consultant for the World Bank, UNESCAP, ADBI, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and has published extensively in the area of trade theory and policy, and on the computable general equilibrium analysis of regional trading arrangements.

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Computable general equilibrium, or CGE, is a well-established numerical simulation technique for evaluating the economy-wide effects of changes in an economic system. It has become very widely used throughout the economics discipline, but is perhaps employed most frequently in the analysis of changes in international trade policy, where changes in tariffs and other taxes are often large and almost always involve multiple sectors and/or regions simultaneously. CGE methods, while certainly not without their limitations, have proved very effective at tracking the myriad of feedback and flow-through effects associated with new regional trading agreements and multilateral trade reforms, and have provided a consistent mechanism of analyzing the effects of changes in trade policy and related areas on a diverse range of economic outcomes.

Estimating parameters of constrained optimization models in a consistent way requires a different set of methods than what is available in a typical econometric toolkit. We identify three complications likely to arise in this context, and suggest solutions to those complications: (i) the bi-level programming character, (ii) ill-posedness, and (iii) derivation of estimator properties. The solutions suggested involve a combination of numerical techniques and utilization of out-of-sample information through Bayesian techniques. The proposed framework is also suitable for typical empirical problems arising in trade analysis such as the estimation of trade equilibrium models and data balancing exercises.

This chapter presents a global computable general equilibrium model with firm heterogeneity based on the Melitz (2003) framework and examines the relative importance of the intensive and extensive margins in the trade expansion following trade liberalization. Using a set of plausible parameters values suggested by empirical studies and calibrating the model to the recent Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) global database, our illustrative simulations indicate that the extensive margin accounts for around one-third of the trade growth induced by a reduction in tariffs or variable trade costs. In the case of reducing fixed trade costs, the extensive margin contributes almost 200 percent of the trade expansion, with the intensive margin contributing negatively to trade growth.

This chapter applies the new heterogeneous firm CGE model of Caliendo and Parro (2009) to determine what the Ricardian gains are from changing partners for members of a trade bloc. We focus on the MERCOSUR case, using a model with 48 sectors and 5 countries. Motivated by recent policy discussions, we quantify Uruguay's trade and welfare effects from signing a Free Trade Agreement with the United States and leaving MERCOSUR. We find positive welfare effects for Uruguay from bilaterally reducing tariffs with the United States. Most of the gains come from having access to lower-cost intermediate inputs for production. We then consider the policy experiment of bilaterally eliminating tariffs between all members of MERCOSUR and the United States. We find that Uruguay has the largest gains, while Argentina and Brazil do not benefit much. This chapter also illustrates how new models are a promising tool for the analysis of trade.

The purpose of this chapter is to benchmark Tunisia against other emerging economies in terms of the regulatory barriers affecting particular services sectors and to assess the economy-wide effects of further liberalizing these services trade restrictions, compared with reducing the dispersion in barriers to its merchandise trade. On the basis of a rather restricted sample of services sectors, partial regulatory reform would yield gains roughly equivalent to full unilateral reform of manufacturing tariffs, but roughly one-tenth the gains from full bilateral reform of border protection in agriculture with the European Union. The adjustment costs associated with these services trade reforms would be minimal. The chapter identifies the reasons why the gains from these services reforms are relatively small and argues that a wider set of reforms could provide win-win outcomes and even fewer adjustment costs. By contrast, the gains in agriculture and manufacturing tend to come at the expense of domestic output in the reforming sectors – the gains are greater, but so too are the adjustment costs.

We use simulations from a detailed dynamic computable general equilibrium (CGE) model to study three broad policies toward illegal workers in U.S. employment: supply restriction (tighter border security), demand restriction (prosecution of employers), and legalization through a guest-worker program with a visa tax. From the point of view of the welfare of legal residents, the results strongly favor the third option. In our welfare analysis, we use a six-part decomposition. This identifies effects on the occupational mix of legal employment as a major factor. Throughout the chapter, model results are explained through arguments and diagrams that will be familiar to economists, particularly those working in trade. No familiarity with the underlying CGE model is assumed. Technical details on our labor market assumptions are given in the Appendix.

Over the past decade, biofuels production in the European Union and the United States has boomed – much of this due to government mandates and subsidies. The United States has now surpassed Brazil as the world's leading producer of ethanol. The economic and environmental impact of these biofuel programs has become an important question of public policy. Due to the complex intersectoral linkages between biofuels and crops, livestock as well as energy activities, CGE modeling has become an important tool for their analysis. This chapter reviews recent developments in this area of economic analysis and suggests directions for future research.

We present a computable general equilibrium model of the interface between the Great Salt Lake (GSL) ecosystem and both the international and regional economy that impacts the ecosystem. International trade is accounted for in the simplest of terms, involving the export of each of the ecosystem's main commodities and importation of a composite good, as well as equilibrium balances in the savings-investment and current accounts. With respect to the ecosystem, the model treats the various representative species as net energy maximizers and bases population dynamics on the period-by-period sizes of surplus net energy. Energy markets – where predators and prey exchange biomass – determine equilibrium energy prices. With respect to the regional economy, we model five production sectors (at the aggregate industry level) – brine cyst harvesters, the mineral-extraction industry, agriculture, recreation, and a composite-good industry – as well as the household sector. By performing dynamic simulations of the joint ecosystem–regional economy model, we isolate the effects of period-by-period stochastic changes in salinity levels and an initial shock to species-population levels on the ecological and economic variables of the model.

This chapter uses a global trade model, supplemented with household survey data, to explore the potential impact of ASEAN trade liberalization on poverty in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam. Our tentative results suggest that ASEAN liberalization is likely to bring substantial gains to the region and lead to significant reductions in poverty. In a simulation of full removal of intra-ASEAN tariffs, we find 320,000 people are moved out of extreme poverty, with a further 1.4 million lifted above the $2 per day poverty line. Poverty reductions are particularly significant in the case of agricultural and rural diversified households and for Cambodia. Under broader ASEAN+3 and ASEAN+6 liberalizations, we find a similar pattern of poverty reduction and the overall reduction in poverty is much higher.

South Asia is one of the world's poorest regions. In this chapter we use a representative household model of South Asia to explore the potential impacts of regional trade liberalization under the auspices of SAFTA on both the distribution of economic gains across the countries of South Asia, and across various groups within South Asia. We also discuss the underlying theory of a potential extension to our approach.

Trade in food and other agricultural products is increasingly important across East and Southeast Asia, where high-income Asian economies have driven significant agricultural expansion, and the People's Republic of China's (PRC) momentous growth promises more stimulus to agro-food activity in the region. The PRC is expected to become a net importer of agro-food in the coming decades, which will have significant implications within the region. As its middle class continues to emerge, the resource intensity of food consumption (e.g., meat and dairy) will lead to net imports and require expansion of agricultural capacity elsewhere. Because low-income Southeast Asia is generally seen to be well below its agro-food potential, this situation suggests a significant opportunity for self-directed poverty reduction through regional agro-food market expansion. This chapter reviews the history of high-income Asia and the PRC's emergence in the region's agro-food markets. Finally, the Greater Mekong Subregion's role is analyzed for the potential of Asian agro-food trade to contribute to poverty reduction.

We have used the Michigan computable general equilibrium (CGE) model of World Production and Trade to calculate the aggregate welfare and sectoral employment effects of the menu of U.S.–Japan trade policies. The menu of policies encompasses the various preferential U.S. and Japan bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) negotiated and in process, unilateral removal of existing trade barriers by the two countries, and global (multilateral) free trade. The U.S. preferential agreements include the FTAs approved by the U.S. Congress with Chile and Singapore in 2003, those signed with Central America, Australia, and Morocco and awaiting Congressional approval in 2004, and prospective FTAs with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Thailand, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The Japanese preferential agreements include the bilateral FTA with Singapore signed in 2002 and prospective FTAs with Chile, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, and Thailand. The welfare impacts of the FTAs on the United States and Japan are shown to be rather small in absolute and relative terms. The sectoral employment effects are also generally small in the United States and Japan, but vary across the individual sectors depending on the patterns of the bilateral liberalization. The welfare effects on the FTA partner countries are mostly positive though generally small, but there are some indications of potentially disruptive employment shifts in some partner countries. There are indications of trade diversion and detrimental welfare effects on nonmember countries for some of the FTAs analyzed. Data limitations precluded analysis of the welfare effects of the different FTA rules of origin and other discriminatory arrangements.

In comparison with the welfare gains from the U.S. and Japan bilateral FTAs, the gains from both unilateral trade liberalization by the United States, Japan, and the FTA partners and global (multilateral) free trade are shown to be rather substantial and more uniformly positive for all countries in the global trading system. The U.S. and Japan FTAs are based on “hub” and “spoke” arrangements. We show that the spokes emanate out in different and often overlapping directions, suggesting that the complex of bilateral FTAs may create distortions of the global trading system.

Regional trading arrangements are proliferating at a rapid pace in the Asia-Pacific region, although the architecture that will eventually emerge remains uncertain. In this chapter we explore the economic implications for both China and its trading partners of the current crop of preferential arrangements and potential future developments in the Asia-Pacific region, using computable general equilibrium simulations. By doing so the chapter aims to identify factors that are likely to weigh heavily in the economic interests of the different participants in some of the alternative ways in which the trade architecture of the region might develop, and the extent of convergence or divergence in these interests.

Most current modeling approaches identify very small gains from trade reform. In this chapter, we examine recent developments in the literature to assess whether standard modeling approaches are mis-specifying, understating, or overstating the gains from trade reform. Key areas where the impacts of trade barrier reduction appear to be understated include the measurement of barriers; the aggregation of these barriers; process productivity gains, particularly those resulting from reallocation of resources between firms; product quality improvements and expansion of product variety; factor supply; and investment of gains from trade.

Cover of New Developments in Computable General Equilibrium Analysis for Trade Policy
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Frontiers of Economics and Globalization
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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