Rules of origin : from analysis to reform


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Rules of origin : from analysis to reform
Tumurchudur B.
Cadot O.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
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General Introduction
This thesis can be divided into two main parts :the first one, corresponding to the first three chapters, studies Rules of Origin (RoOs) in Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs); the second part -the fourth chapter- is concerned with Anti-Dumping (AD) measures.
Despite wide-ranging preferential access granted to developing countries by industrial ones under North-South Trade Agreements -whether reciprocal, like the Europe Agreements (EAs) or NAFTA, or not, such as the GSP, AGOA, or EBA-, it has been claimed that the benefits from improved market access keep falling short of the full potential benefits. RoOs are largely regarded as a primary cause of the under-utilization of improved market access of PTAs.
RoOs are the rules that determine the eligibility of goods to preferential treatment. Their economic justification is to prevent trade deflection, i.e. to prevent non-preferred exporters from using the tariff preferences. However, they are complex, cost raising and cumbersome, and can be manipulated by organised special interest groups. As a result, RoOs can restrain trade beyond what it is needed to prevent trade deflection and hence restrict market access in a statistically significant and quantitatively large proportion.
Part l
In order to further our understanding of the effects of RoOs in PTAs, the first chapter, written with Pr. Olivier Cadot, Celine Carrère and Pr. Jaime de Melo, describes and evaluates the RoOs governing EU and US PTAs. It draws on utilization-rate data for Mexican exports to the US in 2001 and on similar data for ACP exports to the EU in 2002. The paper makes two contributions. First, we construct an R-index of restrictiveness of RoOs along the lines first proposed by Estevadeordal (2000) for NAFTA, modifying it and extending it for the EU's single-list (SL). This synthetic R-index is then used to compare Roos under NAFTA and PANEURO.
The two main findings of the chapter are as follows. First, it shows, in the case of PANEURO, that the R-index is useful to summarize how countries are differently affected by the same set of RoOs because of their different export baskets to the EU. Second, it is shown that the Rindex is a relatively reliable statistic in the sense that, subject to caveats, after controlling for the extent of tariff preference at the tariff-line level, it accounts for differences in utilization rates at the tariff line level. Finally, together with utilization rates, the index can be used to estimate total compliance costs of RoOs.
The second chapter proposes a reform of preferential Roos with the aim of making them more transparent and less discriminatory. Such a reform would make preferential blocs more "cross-compatible" and would therefore facilitate cumulation. It would also contribute to move regionalism toward more openness and hence to make it more compatible with the multilateral trading system.
It focuses on NAFTA, one of the most restrictive FTAs (see Estevadeordal and Suominen 2006), and proposes a way forward that is close in spirit to what the EU Commission is considering for the PANEURO system. In a nutshell, the idea is to replace the current array of RoOs by a single instrument- Maximum Foreign Content (MFC). An MFC is a conceptually clear and transparent instrument, like a tariff. Therefore changing all instruments into an MFC would bring improved transparency pretty much like the "tariffication" of NTBs.
The methodology for this exercise is as follows: In step 1, I estimate the relationship between utilization rates, tariff preferences and RoOs. In step 2, I retrieve the estimates and invert the relationship to get a simulated MFC that gives, line by line, the same utilization rate as the old array of Roos. In step 3, I calculate the trade-weighted average of the simulated MFC across all lines to get an overall equivalent of the current system and explore the possibility of setting this unique instrument at a uniform rate across lines. This would have two advantages. First, like a uniform tariff, a uniform MFC would make it difficult for lobbies to manipulate the instrument at the margin. This argument is standard in the political-economy literature and has been used time and again in support of reductions in the variance of tariffs (together with standard welfare considerations). Second, uniformity across lines is the only way to eliminate the indirect source of discrimination alluded to earlier. Only if two countries face uniform RoOs and tariff preference will they face uniform incentives irrespective of their initial export structure.
The result of this exercise is striking: the average simulated MFC is 25% of good value, a very low (i.e. restrictive) level, confirming Estevadeordal and Suominen's critical assessment of NAFTA's RoOs. Adopting a uniform MFC would imply a relaxation from the benchmark level for sectors like chemicals or textiles & apparel, and a stiffening for wood products, papers and base metals. Overall, however, the changes are not drastic, suggesting perhaps only moderate resistance to change from special interests.
The third chapter of the thesis considers whether Europe Agreements of the EU, with the current sets of RoOs, could be the potential model for future EU-centered PTAs. First, I have studied and coded at the six-digit level of the Harmonised System (HS) .both the old RoOs -used before 1997- and the "Single list" Roos -used since 1997. Second, using a Constant Elasticity Transformation function where CEEC exporters smoothly mix sales between the EU and the rest of the world by comparing producer prices on each market, I have estimated the trade effects of the EU RoOs. The estimates suggest that much of the market access conferred by the EAs -outside sensitive sectors- was undone by the cost-raising effects of RoOs. The chapter also contains an analysis of the evolution of the CEECs' trade with the EU from post-communism to accession.
Part II
The last chapter of the thesis is concerned with anti-dumping, another trade-policy instrument having the effect of reducing market access. In 1995, the Uruguay Round introduced in the Anti-Dumping Agreement (ADA) a mandatory "sunset-review" clause (Article 11.3 ADA) under which anti-dumping measures should be reviewed no later than five years from their imposition and terminated unless there was a serious risk of resumption of injurious dumping.
The last chapter, written with Pr. Olivier Cadot and Pr. Jaime de Melo, uses a new database on Anti-Dumping (AD) measures worldwide to assess whether the sunset-review agreement had any effect. The question we address is whether the WTO Agreement succeeded in imposing the discipline of a five-year cycle on AD measures and, ultimately, in curbing their length.
Two methods are used; count data analysis and survival analysis. First, using Poisson and Negative Binomial regressions, the count of AD measures' revocations is regressed on (inter alia) the count of "initiations" lagged five years. The analysis yields a coefficient on measures' initiations lagged five years that is larger and more precisely estimated after the agreement than before, suggesting some effect. However the coefficient estimate is nowhere near the value that would give a one-for-one relationship between initiations and revocations after five years. We also find that (i) if the agreement affected EU AD practices, the effect went the wrong way, the five-year cycle being quantitatively weaker after the agreement than before; (ii) the agreement had no visible effect on the United States except for aone-time peak in 2000, suggesting a mopping-up of old cases. Second, the survival analysis of AD measures around the world suggests a shortening of their expected lifetime after the agreement, and this shortening effect (a downward shift in the survival function postagreement) was larger and more significant for measures targeted at WTO members than for those targeted at non-members (for which WTO disciplines do not bind), suggesting that compliance was de jure. A difference-in-differences Cox regression confirms this diagnosis: controlling for the countries imposing the measures, for the investigated countries and for the products' sector, we find a larger increase in the hazard rate of AD measures covered by the Agreement than for other measures.
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13/07/2010 14:42
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20/08/2019 15:24
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