International trade

David Jacks, John Tang, 20 October 2018

Foreign goods and workers are regularly blamed when the national economy is performing poorly. Economic theory suggests that trade and migration are substitutes – one can import cheaper products from a trade partner, or one can import the foreign workers themselves to narrow the difference in international factor prices. Yet, empirically this is not obvious. Based on available long-run data for international trade and migration since the late 19th century for the US and Canada, this column finds that during the interwar period, trade and immigration did in fact appear to be substitutes.

Richard Baldwin, 16 October 2018

The WTO is in a funk – unable to conclude the Doha Round even as its members liberalise unilaterally and regionally. This column, first published in June 2010, introduces a Policy Insight arguing that the tactics used to conclude the last round pushed the organisation into decision-making’s “impossible trinity” (consensus, uniform rules, and strict enforcement). The Doha Round may succeed – defeating the triangle with the 'big package' tactic – but this tactic does not work fast enough to allow the WTO to confront 21st century challenges in a timely manner. At least one of the impossible triangle’s corners will have to be modified.

Massimiliano Calì, 15 October 2018

The US-China trade war has rapidly escalated, promising to disrupt trade flows between the two countries and beyond. This column provides the first estimates of trade and investment effects of the trade war on East Asia, one of the most exposed regions. By combining trade and tariff data, it provides some order of magnitude of the expected effects and identifies the possible winners and losers from the trade war in the region.

Francois de Soyres, Erik Frohm, Vanessa Gunnella, Elena Pavlova, 09 October 2018

When a country’s currency depreciates, its export volumes are expected to increase. Yet some recent episodes suggest that exports now barely respond to significant exchange rate movements. This column argues that global value chains are an important part of the answer, as countries now need to import to export, and often re-import their exports. To assess the consequences of international input-output linkages on exchange rate elasticities, policymakers need indices of global value chain participation based on currencies rather than countries.

William Nordhaus, 08 October 2018

The change in the structure of global supply has important implications for US President Donald Trump as he contemplates tearing up existing international trade deals. This column argues that he risks destroying the fruits of almost 100 years of global trade cooperation, the benefits of which to citizens in the US far outweigh the costs. This spirit of cooperation is also the basis for coordinated global action on issues such as climate change.

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