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Mr. Jonathan David Ostry

Trade liberalization in developing countries is frequently opposed on the grounds that, because it is likely to cause a deterioration in the external balance, it may not be a viable policy option for countries facing foreign exchange constraints. Recent literature suggests, however, an ambiguous relationship between tariff changes and the current account. This paper shows that if liberalization involves reducing tariffs on imported intermediate inputs (a reform that has figured prominently in developing countries), then the current account may improve or deteriorate, depending on the level of initial trade distortions and the structure of the economy.[JEL F13, F32, F41]

Mr. Jonathan David Ostry

An intertemporal optimizing model of a small open economy is used to analyze how terms of trade changes affect real exchange rates and the trade balance. Temporary current, (expected) future, and permanent changes in the terms of trade are considered. The results suggest that the relationship between the terms of trade and the current account (the so-called Harberger-Laursen-Metzler effect) is sensitive to whether the model incorporates nontradable goods. Thus, the real exchange rate may be an important variable through which terms of trade shocks are transmitted to the current account.