Annual Forum Papers

The Benefit-Incidence of Tariff Liberalisation in South Africa

  • Year: 2005
  • Author(s): Reza Daniels and Lawrence Edwards
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

This paper evaluates how tariff liberalisation affected households in South Africa over the period 1995, 2000 and 2004, focussing specifically on the incidence of tariffs over the expenditure distribution. Results suggest that trade liberalisation has reduced the tariff burden for households across the expenditure distribution, implying significant welfare improvement to consumers in the form of reduced prices. However, the gains from liberalisation and the continued burden of continued protection are not uniform across household and wealth categories. Poor households continue to bear a disproportionate share of the tariff burden indicating the regressive nature of import tariffs. Wealthy households also gained relative to all but the very poor between 1995 and 2000. Between 2000 and 2004, this trend was reversed, and the poor gained relatively more than the wealthy. Our results indicate potentially large pro-poor gains to consumers from further liberalisation, but the realisation of these gains is dependent on the pass-through of tariff reductions to consumers.