Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Working Paper 12/2010
This paper provides an empirical assessment of race-to-the-bottom unilateralism. It suggests that decades of unilateral tariff cutting in Asia's emerging economies have been driven by a competition to attract FDI from Japan. Using spatial econometrics, I show that tariffs on parts and components, a crucial locational determinant for Japanese firms, converged across countries following a contagion pattern. Tariffs followed those of competing countries if the latter were lower, if FDI jealousy was high, and when competing countries were at a similar level of development.