Antoine Bouët, David Laborde, 06 September 2017

During his election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly announced that he would impose tariffs on imports from China, Mexico, and Germany. This column evaluates the likely outcomes should the US instigate trade wars by imposing such tariffs. In all scenarios, the net effect on US welfare and GDP is either zero or negative. Such trade wars would also have wider negative effects for the trading partners, and potentially, the world economy.

Hugo Erken, Philip Marey, Maartje Wijffelaars, 15 August 2017

Since taking office, US President Donald Trump has been an increasingly vocal proponent of protectionist measures. This column presents five reasons why he is unlikely to resort to full-blown protectionism: political motivations, WTO membership, the possibility of retaliation, the existence of global value chain integration and revenue streams, and the fact that automation rather than trade has caused most job losses in the US. If Trump does resort to protectionism, however, and other countries retaliate, US GDP could face cumulative losses of up to 4.5% over two years.

Simon Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 06 July 2017

The year to date has seen profound changes in G20 protectionist dynamics.This column presents the lastest Global Trade Report, which asks whether President Trump’s bluster has accomplished what the G20 failed to deliver – namely, less protectionism.

Alan de Bromhead, Alan Fernihough, Markus Lampe, Kevin O'Rourke, 24 March 2017

With Brexit looming, and protectionist pressures mounting elsewhere in the developed world, the question of whether trade policy matters is taking on more significance. This column looks at the extent to which trade policy was responsible for the shift towards intra-imperial trade in the interwar period. Both tariffs and quotas increased the Empire’s share of British trade, suggesting that trade policy mattered more for interwar trade patterns than the cliometric literature has suggested.

Italo Colantone, Piero Stanig, 20 February 2017

The revival of nationalism in western Europe, which began in the 1990s, has been associated with increasing support for radical right parties. This column uses trade and election data to show that the radical right gets its biggest electoral boost in regions most exposed to Chinese exports. Within these regions communities vote homogenously, whether individuals work in affected industries or not. 

Alexander Wagner, Richard Zeckhauser, Alexandre Ziegler, 24 February 2017

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States will profoundly affect the US and world economies. This column argues that the stock market has already identified winners and losers among companies and industries. It finds, for example, that investors expect US firms paying high taxes to be relative winners from the Trump presidency, and firms with substantial foreign involvement to be relative losers.   

Aksel Erbahar, Yuan Zi, 10 October 2016

With the US presidential debates, talk of trade protectionism is on the rise. This is worrisome for economists, who generally argue that protection hurts consumers by raising final good prices, particularly in a world with increasingly integrated global value chains. This column presents new evidence for ‘cascading protection’, showing that US protection of inputs has increased the probability of petitions for protection by their downstream users.

Simon Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 13 July 2016

For the past 18 months, officials have worried about a global trade slowdown. This column summarises the latest Global Trade Alert report, which shows that, in fact, global trade is not growing slower – it is not growing at all. The plateau in global trade coincided with a spike in protectionism.

Karan Bhatia, Simon Evenett, Gary Hufbauer, 21 June 2016

In a recent speech, Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, announced that in response to rising protectionism, his company was undertaking a profound shift in its corporate strategy to ensure that more production takes place closer to customers. This column highlights the trend towards localisation and, if this continues unchecked, the risks posed to the world economy.

Robert Grundke, Christoph Moser, 02 June 2016

When the Great Recession hit the world economy, fears of protectionism led to close monitoring of non-tariff barriers to trade. The increase in US import protection appeared rather modest for all those trade policy measures that need to be notified to the WTO. However, stricter enforcement of given product standards does not require any notification. This column argues that the US has increasingly relied on this less transparent and trade-reducing policy instrument during the recent economic crisis.

Cecília Hornok, Miklós Koren, 07 May 2016

Most economists view trade as benefiting countries overall but leading to winners and losers within nations. This column summarises a recent survey about winners and losers from globalisation prepared in the context of the FP7 COEURE project. It stresses that the policy debate should focus on identifying and compensating the losers from globalisation rather than on considering protectionist measures that are detrimental to growth.

Paola Conconi, Manuel García Santana, Laura Puccio, Roberto Venturini, 16 March 2016

One of the more pernicious barriers to trade in today's world are so-called 'rules of origin' that should help customs officers determine a product's origin, but often serve to raise the cost of importing. In practice, such rules prevent final producers from choosing the most efficient input suppliers around the world. This column investigates the impact of rules of origin in the world's largest free trade agreement, NAFTA, on imports of intermediate goods from non-member countries. The findings show that preferential rules of origin in FTAs can violate GATT rules by substantially increasing the level of protection faced by non-members.

Simon Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 12 November 2015

The value of world trade is falling. This column, which introduces the 18th Global Trade Alert report, shows that the manufactures that account for a large share of the fall are those where G20 nations have imposed the most trade restrictions since 2014. G20 leaders should request that the Chinese G20 Presidency support initiatives to revive global trade and avoid more trade distortions.

Emine Boz, Matthieu Bussière, Clément Marsilli, 12 November 2014

The past three years have witnessed a slowdown in global trade. This column shows that the slowdown was particularly pronounced in advanced economies, especially the Eurozone. In a panel of 18 OECD economies, most of the slowdown can be explained by cyclical factors. However, structural factors – global value chains and especially protectionism – may have played a role too.

Chad Bown, 27 June 2014

Temporary trade barriers have become more than an important bellwether for contemporary protectionism; with persistent tariff levels, they are now a primary obstacle to free trade. The World Bank’s newly updated Temporary Trade Barriers Database suggests that the Great Recession-era increases in import protection may be levelling off. Now policymakers begin to face the daunting task of dismantling all of those temporary barriers they imposed during the early phase of the crisis.

Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 07 April 2014

Measures of economic freedom provide useful cross-country comparisons, but lack the time dimension to track intertemporal progress. This column presents a new measure and extends it back in time to tell a history of economic freedom over the course of the twentieth century.

Mario Mariniello, 09 November 2013

Since the adoption of the Anti-Monopoly law in 2007, the Chinese competition authorities have stepped up enforcement of mergers and anti-competitive practices. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has relied heavily on behavioural remedies in merger cases (as opposed to the more efficient structural remedies favoured by the European Commission). Furthermore, merger policy has been used to protect domestic industries from competition. In contrast, Chinese fines for cartels have shown no foreign bias, and if anything have been too low.

Anders Åslund, 04 September 2013

Emerging markets are under pressure. This column argues that this is not a mere headwind but that the BRICs’ party is over. Their ability to get going again rests on their ability to carry through reforms in grim times for which they lacked the courage in a boom.

Simon Evenett, 03 September 2013

G20 leaders are currently meeting in St Petersburg to discuss protectionism. This column, which summarises the key findings of the new 14th Global Trade Alert report, argues that the current G20 approach to promoting open trade and investment is not working. In recent years G20 members resorted to protectionism more frequently than at the beginning of the economic crisis and, indeed, the stock of crisis-era protectionist measures imposed by the G20 members keeps on growing. The G20’s ‘softly softly’ approach isn’t working.

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