Did the least developed countries benefit from duty-free quota-free access to the Japanese market?

Discussion Papers


by ITO Tadashi

December 2013


Countries classified as least developed countries (LDCs) were granted duty-free quota-free (DFQF) access to the Japanese market. This study examines the impact of that access and finds that, in general, it did not benefit the LDCs. The construction of concordance tables for Japan's 9 digit tariff line codes enables analysis at the tariff line level, which overcomes a possible aggregation bias. The exogenous nature of DFQF access mitigates the endogeneity problem. Various estimation models, including the triple difference estimator, show that in general the LDCs did not benefit from DFQF access to the Japanese market. The total value of imports from LDCs has been increasing, but the imports granted both zero tariffs and substantial preference margins over non-LDC countries were not successful. These findings suggest that for LDCs the tariff barrier is a relatively small obstacle: Trade is affected more strongly by other factors, such as infrastructure, nontariff barriers, geographic distance, and cultural differences.

Keywords: Export platform FDI
JEL classification: F12, F15, F23

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