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若无NAFTA,美国出口商会面临高额关税

彼得森国际经济研究所 2017-04-21 09:18
摘要:北美自由贸易协定(NAFTA)可以使美国出口商免于遭受墨西哥关税方面的极不确定性,而这一好处被低估。按照NAFTA,美国出口商不仅获得了较大的关税优惠——大于墨西哥出口商在美国获得的优惠,而且避免了其他出口商面临的关税上调的可能性。

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原文标题:US Exporters Could Face High Tariffs without NAFTA

中文摘要:纽约联邦储备银行经济学家Mary Amiti和彼得森国际经济研究所专家Caroline Freund在《若无NAFTA,美国出口商会面临高额关税》一文中说,北美自由贸易协定(NAFTA)可以使美国出口商免于遭受墨西哥关税方面的极不确定性,而这一好处被低估。按照NAFTA,美国出口商不仅获得了较大的关税优惠——大于墨西哥出口商在美国获得的优惠,而且避免了其他出口商面临的关税上调的可能性。墨西哥的约束关税税率非常高,远远超过美国的约束税率,是世界贸易组织成员可以施加的最高关税税率。若没有NAFTA,还存在一种风险,即美国对墨出口商品被征收的关税可能会达到他们的约束税率,平均为35%。相比之下,美国的约束税率平均只有4%。至少,若没有北美自由贸易协定,美国出口商会面临更严重的政策不确定性。(编译:刘小云)

原文:

An underappreciated benefit of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is the protection it offers US exporters from extreme tariff uncertainty in Mexico. US exporters not only have gained greater tariff preferences under NAFTA than Mexican exporters gained in the United States but also have been exempt from potential tariff hikes facing other exporters. Mexico’s bound tariff rates—the maximum tariff rate a World Trade Organization (WTO) member can impose—are very high and far exceed US bound rates. Without NAFTA, there is a risk that tariffs on US exports to Mexico could reach their bound rates, which average 35 percent. In contrast, US bound rates average only 4 percent. At the very least, US exporters would be subject to a higher level of policy uncertainty without the trade agreement.

US-MEXICAN TRADE UNDER NAFTA

Since joining NAFTA in 1994, the US share of trade with Mexico has grown, as shown in the chart below. Mexico’s share has risen to 14 percent of total exports and imports. In the same time frame, the US share of trade with China has increased even more rapidly, although no free trade agreement with China is in place. Mexico’s export and import shares are the same, but China accounts for a much bigger share of US imports than of US exports.

{US Exporters Could Face High Tariffs without NAFTA.jpg}

US BENEFITS FROM PREFERENCES IN MEXICO

Often forgotten in the debate about NAFTA are the benefits to US companies. NAFTA grants US exporters duty-free access to the Mexican market in exchange for duty-free access for Mexican exporters in the US market. By contrast, exports from WTO member countries that do not have free trade agreements with either Mexico or the United States are subject to “most favored nation” (MFN) applied tariffs in those countries.

Currently, applied MFN tariffs are higher in Mexico than in the United States—an indication that the United States receives more extensive preferences in Mexico than Mexico receives in the United States. In the absence of NAFTA, the average tariff on Mexican exports to the United States would be 3.7 percent, whereas the average tariff on US exports to Mexico would be 7.4 percent. About a quarter of US exports would be subject to tariffs above 5 percent. By contrast, only 15 percent of Mexican exports would be subject to tariffs above 5 percent. However, with NAFTA, all trade between Mexico and the United States is duty-free, so these asymmetric preferences offer the United States a relatively good deal.

Without NAFTA, Mexico would have more freedom to raise tariffs on its imports under international rules than would the United States. The reason is that Mexico’s bound rates—the maximum rate a WTO member can impose—are well above its applied MFN rates. In contrast, US tariffs are bound at applied rates. In successive multilateral trade liberalization rounds, the United States and other advanced countries agreed to bind their tariffs at progressively lower levels to protect member countries against trade wars and to sustain trade liberalization. If a member country were to raise tariffs on imports from WTO members above bound rates, WTO rules would require it to compensate affected members.

Developing countries were largely excluded from these tariff commitments. Unlike the United States, where tariffs are bound at the lower applied MFN rates, Mexican tariffs are bound at rates above their applied MFN tariffs. The average bound rate for Mexico is 35 percent. More than 90 percent of US exports to Mexico are in products with bound tariff rates above 30 percent (see chart below). The large gap between the bound rates and the applied rates, known as the “binding overhang,” means that Mexico can raise tariffs significantly without breaking international rules, provided it does so on a nondiscriminatory basis.

{US Exporters Could Face High Tariffs without NAFTA-1.jpg}

This binding overhang implies that countries not in trade agreements with Mexico face significant policy uncertainty. Recent research (link is external) finds evidence of depressed investment and trade in countries facing the uncertainty of higher tariff rates on their exports.

It would not be unusual for Mexico to raise MFN tariffs, taking advantage of high bindings governing its trade. Mexico’s average tariff rose from 13 percent in 1995 to more than 18 percent in the early 2000s when tariffs increased by 50 percent or more on some agricultural products. Car parts and textiles and apparel also faced steep tariff hikes. Eventually, the increase in external protection created large preferences for NAFTA goods, which was costly for the Mexican economy. Importers were shifting to US goods, even when the United States was not the lowest-cost producer and imports from the United States did not bring in tariff revenue. Research (link is external) shows that this so-called trade diversion encouraged unilateral trade liberalization to ensure that imports external to trade agreements were not cut off.

Given the large and well-documented (link is external) benefits from low trade barriers, particularly those stemming from access to a wider variety of imported intermediate inputs and lower prices of intermediate inputs (link is external), it would not be in Mexico’s interest to raise all of its MFN tariffs to their bound rates. But Mexico has the flexibility to do so and may choose to do so on some products in the absence of NAFTA. MFN tariff hikes, which are nondiscriminatory, could disproportionately affect the United States because Mexico has other free trade agreements. The vast majority of Mexico’s imports enter duty free as a result of its 19 trade agreements (link is external). If MFN tariffs were increased on products available from other free trade partners and the United States, only other trade agreement partners would be protected if US exporters were not insured with NAFTA. For example, Mexico's bound rate on steel is 35 percent. Mexico accounts for 30 percent of US steel exports, but it could turn to many alternative suppliers, damaging US exports, with little (if any) additional cost to Mexican steel importers.

In another example of the potential harm to US interests, it is worth recalling that NAFTA’s liberalization of US corn exports (link is external) was strongly opposed by Mexican growers 25 years ago. The bound rate on corn—one of the largest US exports to Mexico and a crop considered to be a national heritage in Mexico—is 37 percent. Thus Mexico could raise its tariff on US-grown corn to 37 percent without breaching any international rules.

Put simply, Mexico has a lot of room to raise tariffs, up to its bound rates of about 35 percent. In contrast, the United States has less room to adjust its tariff rates without breaching WTO rules because the US MFN tariff rates of about 4 percent are already at their bound rates. Thus, for US exporters, NAFTA offers a valuable insurance policy against Mexican tariff hikes.

责任编辑:刘小云