A tale of pork prices: evasion and attenuation of a Japanese tariff

Author: 
Kazuki Onji
Description: 
Asia Pacific Economic Paper No. 382
JEL codes: 
Abstract: 
This paper empirically examines the effectiveness of a safeguard tariff in the Japanese market for imported pork parts. The goals are, first, to consider a refinement to the traditional market-based method for evasion detection, and, second, to apply the method in a setting where evasion is suspected to be widespread. Utilising a within-pig variation in tariff burdens and the timing of safeguard invocations, I examine a panel of monthly wholesale prices on narrowly-defined pork products from 2001 through 2008. The results are consistent with a hypothesis that a widespread evasion nullified the safeguard tariff on pork, and are robust to a range of alternative explanations including the adjustment of profit margins by traders. Safeguard tariffs appear to be a simple mechanism, but behavioural responses can undo the policy intent.