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.
Aksel Erbahar, Yuan Zi, 10 October 2016
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.
Simon Evenett, 13 June 2013
Commentators increasingly talk about the steady rise of protectionism. This column presents evidence from the newest Global Trade Alert report to suggest that they’re right: the past twelve months have seen a quiet, artful, wide-ranging assault on free trade. Little of this has showed up in traditional monitoring. Protectionism in Q4 2012 and Q1 2013 far exceeds anything seen since the onset of the global financial crisis.
Dirk Schoenmaker, 18 April 2013
International banking is under threat in the aftermath of the Global Crisis Supervisors across the world are pushing for a split of international banks into national subsidiaries. This column discusses ‘financial protectionism’, offering some governance solutions that may help to international banks. These solutions boil down to burden sharing. In Europe, the first step is banking union.
Chad Bown, Meredith Crowley, 08 February 2013
For most of the postwar period, rich nations had much lower average tariffs than developing nations, but they frequently applied variable protection – dumping duties etc. – in reaction to business cycles and exchange-rate movements. Massive, unilateral tariff-cutting by developing nations since the 1990s evened out the averages. This column presents new evidence that emerging economies are now tying variable protection more closely to business cycles and exchange rates – just like the high-income economies.
Hylke Vandenbussche, Jozef Konings, 30 January 2013
The rise of international production sharing – ‘global value chains’ – has transformed international commerce and pushed economists into new territory. This column argues that there is evidence to suggest that old-fashioned protection can have an unexpected negative effect on firms that are part of a global value chain. In an increasingly globalised world, exporters’ success seems to positively depend on the free entry of imports rather than the other way round.
Laura Alfaro, Paola Conconi, Harald Fadinger, Patrick Legros, Andrew Newman, 02 December 2012
Increasingly, people are pointing the finger of blame for economic woe at large firms. This column argues that organisation design is often affected by government trade policy. If firm organisation design has implications for consumer welfare (in terms of prices and quality of product), evidence suggests that governments should make sure that in future, trade policy and corporate governance policy are more complementary.
José De Sousa, Thierry Mayer, Soledad Zignago, 20 November 2012
Do trade costs still matter in a modern era characterised by a fall in transaction costs? This column argues that there is a dearth of good analysis in the debate around market access difficulties. Complaining about restrictions in accessing foreign markets is political leaders’ current favourite hobby yet. In light of stalled WTO negotiations, shouldn’t rigour, not rhetoric, lead this debate?
Bradford Jensen, 19 November 2012
Should developed countries fear trade in services? Won’t high skilled jobs be lost to cheaper, developing country service workers? This column argues that trade in services represents a profitable opportunity as long as international trade in services is liberalised. The US and other developed countries should aggressively pursue fairer and thus more favourable terms under the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement.