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What is an import duty?

Relevant Topics

This question pertains to topics in Microeconomics, such as Import Duty, Tariffs, International Trade


Import Duty: Import duty is a tax collected on imports and some exports by a country's customs authorities. It's a form of indirect tax that is levied on products purchased from overseas and brought into a country, making them more expensive to purchase.

Detailed Explanation:

Import duties are often levied as a percentage of the value of the good (ad valorem) but can also be levied as a flat fee (specific tariff) or as a mix of the two (compound tariff). The purpose of import duties can be twofold: to raise revenue for the government and to protect domestic industries from foreign competition by raising the price of imported goods.

While import duties can protect domestic industries in the short term, they can also lead to a decrease in trade efficiency, and consumers often bear the brunt of the cost as they have to pay higher prices for imported goods. In some cases, it may also prompt a trade war if other countries retaliate with their own import duties.


USA-China Trade War: In recent years, a significant example of import duty implementation is the trade war between the USA and China. The US imposed tariffs (a form of import duty) on billions of dollars' worth of Chinese goods, raising the cost of those goods for US importers.

EU's Import Duties on Agriculture:
The European Union has a Common Agricultural Policy that imposes high import duties on certain agricultural products to protect its farmers from international competition. For instance, the EU has high import duties on beef, which can be as high as 45%.


In conclusion, an import duty is a tax levied on imported goods to generate revenue and/or protect domestic industries from foreign competition. Its impact can be seen in real-world examples such as the USA-China trade war and the European Union's agricultural policy. Despite their short-term advantages, import duties can also lead to higher prices for consumers and potential retaliation from trading partners.

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