Discussion paper

DP6729 Illusory Revenues: Tariffs in Resource-Rich and Aid-Rich Economies

Where imports are financed predominantly by rents from resource extraction or aid, the revenue generated by tariffs is illusory. Revenue earned by the tariff is offset by a reduction in the real value of aid and resource rents. Revenue is however moved between accounts in the government budget, which, in the case of aid, may reduce the burden of donor conditionality. We demonstrate this proposition and its qualifications analytically and by simulating the effects of tariffs on revenue, real income, and export diversification for a range of cases. Whereas countries in which tariff revenue is illusory should adopt more liberal trade regimes, we show that currently there is no such tendency.


Venables, A and P Collier (2008), ‘DP6729 Illusory Revenues: Tariffs in Resource-Rich and Aid-Rich Economies‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 6729. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp6729