International trade

Anabel González, 25 March 2020

As countries deploy all instruments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, this column reminds trade ministers around the world that trade can serve as a powerful, low-cost tool to improve access to medical supplies. It offers various recommendations for immediate action, all of them compatible with WTO rules.

Chad Bown, Aksel Erbahar, Maurizio Zanardi, 23 March 2020

The decades preceding the Trump era saw a significant decline in trade barriers and a concurrent rise in global value chains. Evidence on the direction of causality between the two is still lacking. Using an exogenously timed WTO requirement for countries to re-evaluate previously imposed tariffs, this column argues that increased activity through global value chains had an important role to play in the countries’ choice to reduce trade protection during this period. 

Simon Evenett, 19 March 2020

Given the centrality of China to many international supply chains, there is considerable interest in the impact of COVID-19 on global trade flows. And a troubling trade policy dimension is now coming to light. This column reports on and assesses a finding of the Global Trade Alert that 24 nations have recently imposed export restrictions on medical supplies.

Caroline Freund, Maryla Maliszewska, Aaditya Mattoo, Michele Ruta, 18 March 2020

Should the China-US trade agreement prompt relief or concern? This column argues that the answer depends on how China implements the agreement. Model simulations suggest that both countries would be better off under this ‘managed trade’ agreement than if the trade war had escalated. However, compared to the policy status quo, China is worse off and so is the rest of the world because of trade diversion. China can reverse those losses if instead of granting the US privileged entry, it opens its market for all trading partners.

Eiichi Tomiura, Banri Ito, Byeongwoo Kang, 14 March 2020

Cross-border data flows are becoming increasingly important in the modern economy. In response, many countries have introduced regulations to control data transfers. This column discusses the firm-level response to such regulations using a recent survey of Japanese firms. Firms react by changing the location of data storage and processing, as well as by tightening data protection. However, these responses vary significantly depending on where the regulations originate. 

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