The Basics of Tariffs and Trade Barriers

International craft increases the number of goods that domestic consumers can choose from, decreases the cost of those goods through increased contest, and allows domestic industries to ship their products overseas. While all of these effects seem beneficial, it has been argued that free trade is n’t beneficial to all parties .

This article will examine how some countries react to a variety of factors that attempt to influence deal .

Key Takeaways

  • Tariffs are a type of protectionist trade barrier that can come in several forms.
  • While tariffs may benefit a few domestic sectors, economists agree that free trade policies in a global market are ideal.
  • Tariffs are paid by domestic consumers and not the exporting country, but they have the effect of raising the relative prices of imported products.
  • Other trade barriers include quotas, licenses, and standardization, all seeking to make foreign goods more expensive or available in a limited supply.


General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)

Who Collects a duty ?

In simplest terms, a tariff is a tax. It adds to the cost bear by consumers of imported goods and is one of several deal policies that a country can enact. Tariffs are paid to the customs authority of the country imposing the tariff .

Tariffs on imports coming into the United States, for model, are collected by Customs and Border Protection, acting on behalf of the Commerce Department. In the U.K., it ‘s HM Revenue & Customs ( HMRC ) that collects the money .

It is authoritative to recognize that the taxes owed on imports are paid by domestic consumers and not imposed immediately on the foreign country ‘s exports. The effect is however to make extraneous products relatively more expensive for consumers, but if manufacturers rely on imported components or early inputs in their production process, they will besides pass the increased monetary value on to consumers .

often, goods from abroad are cheaper because they offer cheaper capital or parturiency costs ; if those goods become more expensive, then consumers will choose the relatively costly domestic product. overall, consumers tend to lose out with tariffs, where the taxes are collected domestically .

Why Are Tariffs and Trade Barriers Used ?

Tariffs are often created to protect baby industries and developing economies but are besides used by more advanced economies with developed industries. here are five of the top reasons tariffs are used :

Protecting domestic employment

The recruit of tariffs is often highly politicized. The possibility of increased competition from imported goods can threaten domestic industries. These domestic companies may fire workers or shift production abroad to cut costs, which means higher unemployment and a less happy electorate .

Though tariffs are implemented to protect domestic industries, studies show that overall, tariffs are hurtful as they impede economic growth, negatively impacting all players. The unemployment argumentation often shifts to domestic industries complaining about bum foreign labor, and how poor work conditions and miss of regulation allow alien companies to produce goods more cheaply. In economics, however, countries will continue to produce goods until they nobelium longer have a comparative advantage ( not to be confused with an absolute advantage ) .

Protecting Consumers

A government may levy a duty on products that it feels could endanger its population. For exemplar, South Korea may place a duty on imported beef from the United States if it thinks that the goods could be tainted with a disease .

baby Industries

The use of tariffs to protect baby industries can be seen by the Import Substitution Industrialization ( ISI ) scheme employed by many developing nations. The politics of a developing economy will levy tariffs on imported goods in industries in which it wants to foster emergence .

This increases the prices of imported goods and creates a domestic grocery store for domestically produced goods while protecting those industries from being forced out by more competitive price. It decreases unemployment and allows developing countries to shift from agricultural products to finished goods .

Criticisms of this sort of protectionist strategy revolve around the cost of subsidizing the development of baby industries. If an industry develops without competition, it could wind up producing lower quality goods, and the subsidies required to keep the state-backed industry adrift could sap economic growth .

National Security

Barriers are besides employed by break countries to protect certain industries that are deemed strategically significant, such as those supporting national security. Defense industries are often viewed as vital to state interests, and much enjoy significant levels of auspices .

For example, while both Western Europe and the United States are industrialized, both are very protective of defense-oriented companies .


Countries may besides set tariffs as a retaliation proficiency if they think that a trade partner has not played by the rules. For example, if France believes that the United States has allowed its wine producers to call its domestically produced spark wines “ Champagne ” ( a name specific to the Champagne area of France ) for excessively long, it may levy a tariff on imported kernel from the United States .

If the U.S. agrees to crack down on the improper tag, France is likely to stop its retaliation. retaliation can besides be employed if a trading partner goes against the government ‘s extraneous policy objectives .

coarse Types of Tariffs

There are several types of tariffs and barriers that a government can employ :

  • Specific tariffs
  • Ad valorem tariffs
  • Licenses
  • Import quotas
  • Voluntary export restraints
  • Local content requirements

specific Tariffs

A fixed fee levied on one unit of an imported good is referred to as a specific duty. This duty can vary according to the type of goods imported. For example, a country could levy a $ 15 duty on each pair of shoes imported, but levy a $ 300 duty on each calculator imported .

Ad Valorem Tariffs

The phrase “ ad valorem ” is Latin for “ according to prize, ” and this type of duty is levied on a good based on a percentage of that estimable ‘s value. An exercise of an ad valorem duty would be a 15 % tariff levied by Japan on U.S. automobiles .

The 15 % is a price increase on the measure of the car, so a $ 10,000 vehicle now costs $ 11,500 to japanese consumers. This price increase protects domestic producers from being cut but besides keeps prices artificially high for japanese car shoppers .

Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade


A license is granted to a business by the government and allows the business to import a certain character of good into the nation. For case, there could be a limitation on imported cheese, and licenses would be granted to certain companies allowing them to act as importers. This creates a limitation on competition and increases prices faced by consumers .

significance Quotas

An consequence quota is a limitation placed on the come of a particular good that can be imported. This sort of barrier is often associated with the issue of licenses. For exercise, a country may place a quota on the volume of imported citrus fruit that is allowed.

voluntary export Restraints ( VER )

This type of trade barrier is “ voluntary ” in that it is created by the exporting nation rather than the importing one. A voluntary export restraint ( VER ) is normally levied at the behest of the import nation and could be accompanied by a multiplicative inverse VER .

For exemplar, Brazil could place a VER on the exporting of carbohydrate to Canada, based on a request by Canada. Canada could then place a VER on the export of coal to Brazil. This increases the price of both coal and boodle but protects the domestic industries .

local Content prerequisite

rather of placing a quota on the number of goods that can be imported, the government can require that a certain percentage of a good be made domestically. The restriction can be a percentage of the good itself or a share of the value of the beneficial .

For model, a limitation on the consequence of computers might say that 25 % of the pieces used to make the computer are made domestically, or can say that 15 % of the measure of the beneficial must come from domestically produced components .

In the final section, we ‘ll examine who benefits from tariffs and how they affect the price of goods .

Who Benefits From Tariffs ?

The benefits of tariffs are mismatched. Because a duty is a tax, the politics will see increased gross as imports enter the domestic market. domestic industries besides benefit from a reduction in rival, since import prices are artificially inflated .

unfortunately for consumers—both individual consumers and businesses—higher consequence prices mean higher prices for goods. If the price of steel is inflated due to tariffs, person consumers pay more for products using steel, and businesses pay more for steel that they use to make goods. In shortstop, tariffs and trade barriers tend to be pro-producer and anti-consumer .

The U.S. nobelium longer charges tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from the European Union. The effect of tariffs and trade barriers on businesses, consumers, and the politics shifts over fourth dimension. In the abruptly run, higher prices for goods can reduce consumption by individual consumers and by businesses. During this period, some businesses will profit, and the politics will see an increase in tax income from duties .

In the retentive condition, these businesses may see a decline in efficiency due to a lack of rival, and may besides see a decrease in profits due to the emergence of substitutes for their products. For the government, the long-run effect of subsidies is an increase in the demand for populace services, since increased prices, particularly in foodstuffs, leave less disposable income .

How do Tariffs Affect Prices ?

Tariffs increase the prices of imported goods. Because of this, domestic producers are not forced to reduce their prices from increased competition, and domestic consumers are left paying higher prices as a leave. Tariffs besides reduce efficiencies by allowing companies that would not exist in a more competitive market to remain open .

The human body below illustrates the effects of world trade without the presence of a duty. In the graph, DS means domestic supply and DD means domestic requirement. The price of goods at home is found at price P, while the world price is found at P* .

At a lower price, domestic consumers will consume Qw worth of goods, but because the home country can only produce up to Qd, it must import Qw-Qd worth of goods .

Tariffs Affect Prices 1
picture by Julie Bang © Investopedia 2019
When a duty or early price-increasing policy is put in identify, the effect is to increase prices and limit the book of imports. In the name below, price increases from the non-tariff P* to P ‘. Because the price has increased, more domestic companies are will to produce the commodity, so Qd moves right. This besides shifts Qw left. The overall effect is a reduction in imports, increased domestic production, and higher consumer prices .

Tariffs Affect Prices 2
prototype by Julie Bang © Investopedia 2019

Tariffs and Modern Trade

The function tariffs play in external trade has declined in modern times. One of the primary reasons for the decline is the introduction of external organizations designed to improve absolve trade wind, such as the World Trade Organization ( WTO ) .

such organizations make it more unmanageable for a country to levy tariffs and taxes on imported goods, and can reduce the likelihood of retaliatory taxes. Because of this, countries have shifted to non-tariff barriers, such as quotas and export restraints .

Organizations like the WTO undertake to reduce production and consumption distortions created by tariffs. These distortions are the resultant role of domestic producers making goods due to inflate prices, and consumers purchasing fewer goods because prices have increased .

Since the 1930s, many developed countries have reduced tariffs and trade barriers, which has improved ball-shaped integration and brought about globalization. multilateral agreements between governments increase the likelihood of tariff reduction, while enforcement of binding agreements reduces uncertainty .

What Are the Main Types of Trade Barriers?

The main types of trade barriers used by countries seeking a protectionist policy or as a shape of retaliatory deal barriers are subsidies, standardization, tariffs, quotas, and licenses. Each of these either makes foreign goods more expensive in domestic markets or limits the supply of extraneous goods in domestic markets .

What Is an Example of a Tariff?

An exercise of a duty would be a tax on a good imported from another country. For example, a 3 % tariff on corn would be a 3 % tax added to the price of corn paid by any domestic importer of corn from a foreign state. This would increase the price of importing corn, resulting in an increase in the price of corn being sold domestically by the importer in orderliness to cover the costs and earn a profit. This hurts domestic consumers angstrom well angstrom businesses as consumers may look for cheaper competitors that are selling domestic corn whiskey and not the more expensive imported corn .

Do Tariffs Cause Inflation?

theoretically, tariffs can cause inflation. Tariffs increase the price of goods and services in domestic markets by applying a tax on imported goods that is paid by the domestic importer. To cover the increased costs, the domestic importer then charges higher prices for the goods and services. Tariffs are typically applied to specific products or industries, sol may not have a wide-scale impression, which, differently, would cause all prices to increase, resulting in inflation.

The Bottom Line

complimentary craft benefits consumers through increased choice and shrink prices, but because the global economy brings with it doubt, many governments enforce tariffs and early trade barriers to protect the diligence. There is a delicate balance between the pursuit of efficiencies and the politics ‘s motivation to ensure first gear unemployment .

reference :
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