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Global Development Institute

WP169/2012

Squeezing the state: tariff revenue, state capacity and the WTO's Doha Round

James Scott

Tax revenue forms a critical element of state capacity, in turn underpinning the state’s ability to foster inclusive economic growth. This paper calculates the impact of the WTO’s Doha Round on tariff revenues among low-income countries. It finds that some, though not all, are severely affected, losing up to 17 percent of total government tax revenue. In addition, the tariff cuts are found to be regressive, primarily affecting luxury items, such as motor vehicles. Finally, the paper analyses the effectiveness of the mechanism included in the Doha Round to overcome lost tariff revenue, namely aid for trade.