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Why were Latin America's tariffs so much higher than Asia's before 1950?

  • Michael A. Clemens (a1) and Jeffrey G. Williamson (a2)

Latin America had the highest tariffs in the world before 1914; Asia had the lowest. Heavily protected Latin America also boasted some of the most explosive belle époque growth, while open Asia registered some of the least. What brought the two regions to the opposite ends of the tariff policy spectrum? We find that limits to Asian tariff policy autonomy may have lowered tariffs substantially there, but by themselves they cannot explain why Asian tariffs were so much lower than the Latin American tariffs before 1914; that natural barriers, domestic political economy and strategic tariff policy seems to have contributed much to the difference and that the origins of Asian post-World War 2 import-substitution policies seem to lie in the interwar years when Asian tariff levels caught up with those of Latin America.

América Latina tuvo los aranceles más altos del mundo antes de 1914; Asia tuvo los más bajos. Fuertemente protegida, América Latina también ofreció uno de los crecimientos más explosivos de la belle époque mientras Asia mostraba uno de los menores. ¿Fue el diferente espectro de la política arancelaria lo que llevó a estas dos regiones a destinos tan opuestos? Nosotros encontramos: que los límites a la autonomía de la política arancelaria en Asia habrían contribuido considerablemente a reducir los aranceles, pero no pueden explicar por sí mismos por qué los aranceles fueron mucho más bajos que en América Latina antes de 1914; las barreras naturales, la economía política nacional y las políticas arancelarias estratégicas parecen haber contribuido mucho a la diferencia en el comportamiento del crecimiento de estas dos zonas y los orígenes de la política de sustitución de importaciones asiática posterior a la II Guerra Mundial parecen extenderse al periodo de entreguerras cuando los niveles arancelarios asiáticos convergieron con los de América Latina.

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Revista de Historia Economica - Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History
  • ISSN: 0212-6109
  • EISSN: 2041-3335
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