Declining Protection in Developing Countries: Fact or Fiction?


  • This paper is based on The World Economy Asia Lecture given at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus in February 2012.


This paper explores whether and to what extent evident trade reform, falling average tariffs and rising exports in recent decades overstate the extent to which protectionism has declined in developing countries, especially low-income developing countries. It identifies remaining significant protection, especially of final manufactured goods; this being associated with the presence of peak tariffs, escalating tariff structures by stage of production and replacement of old forms of non-tariff protection with new instruments of non-tariff protection. It also identifies significant protection arising from high international trade costs induced by inefficiencies in transportation, ports and customs, and from the growth of exports to preference-receiving, export markets.