Emanuel Ornelas, Marcos Ritel, 08 November 2018

Generalised System of Preferences programmes, a form of nonreciprocal tariff cuts, have proliferated since the 1970s. Using a well-documented dataset of international trade agreements, this column studies the effectiveness of the system on beneficiaries’ aggregate exports. It finds that nonreciprocal tariff preferences can have a strong positive effect on the exports of least-developed countries, provided that they are WTO members. Conversely, other developing economies enjoying nonreciprocal preferences are able to increase exports only if they are not WTO members. 

Eric Bond, Mario Crucini, Tristan Potter, Joel Rodrigue, 27 September 2018

The Trump administration’s recent tariff increases have prompted comparisons to interwar tariff history. This column investigates tariffs during this period, drawing out lessons on their macroeconomic impacts for the US and its trade partners. The recessionary impact of recent tariffs is likely to be smaller and less widespread than those imposed during the interwar period, provided that tariff levels don’t escalate too dramatically through retaliation.

Edith Laget, Alberto Osnago, Nadia Rocha, Michele Ruta, 14 July 2018

The making and unmaking of trade agreements affects global production. This column reveals how deeper agreements have boosted countries’ participation in global value chains and helped them integrate in industries with higher levels of value added. Investment and competition now drive global value chain participation in North-South relationships, while removing traditional barriers remains important for South-South relationships.

Kyle Bagwell, Robert Staiger, Ali Yurukoglu, 17 May 2018

It is widely accepted that the most-favoured nation rule – a fundamental feature of WTO negotiations – has both advantages and disadvantages. This column considers the empirical outcomes of tariff bargaining under the most-favoured nation rule versus outcomes where this rule is abandoned. It finds that the rule substantially increases welfare at the global level.

Alessandro Nicita, Marcelo Olarreaga, Peri da Silva, 05 April 2018

There are growing signs that a trade war is possible, and that the multilateral trading system may not be able to prevent it. This column asks what would happen with tariffs around the world if countries were to move from cooperative tariff setting within the WTO to non-cooperative tariff setting outside the WTO. It argues that that the resulting trade war with countries exploiting their market power would lead to a 32-percentage point increase in the tariff protection faced by the average world exporter.

Marion Jansen, Joost Pauwelyn, Theresa Carpenter, 31 January 2018

International economic dispute settlement is under increased scrutiny. How are decisions made about the ‘fairness’ of national or foreign policies? How are damages to be paid by governments to private investors calculated? This column introduces a book with contributions from academics and practitioners that explore whether economists can be of use in addressing these and other contentious questions in international trade and investor–state disputes.

Céline Carrère, Marcelo Olarreaga, Damian Raess, 15 December 2017

Protecting workers through the inclusion of labour clauses in trade agreements has become more common since the first such causes were included in NAFTA, but some argue that by increasing labour costs in developing countries, they represent a form of protectionism. This column uses new data to argue that there is no evidence for adverse effects on trade from labour clauses. When such clauses are strong, and if they emphasise cooperation in their implementation, they have a positive effect on the commercial interests of developing countries.

Dalia Marin, 07 September 2017

Previous research has shown that China's entry into the WTO in 2001 has had a profound impact on jobs and wages of low-skilled workers in the US in sectors exposed to Chinese imports. The same is not true for Germany. This column argues this is because the import-side trade adjustment to low-cost competition had already happened before the rise of China, because the rise of Eastern Europe offered new export opportunities for German firms, and because China’s love for product quality found a perfect match in German products.

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.

Mary Amiti, Mi Dai, Robert Feenstra, John Romalis, 28 June 2017

China has become the world’s largest exporter, with a rapid rise in its world trade share just after it joined the WTO in 2001. This column finds that China’s WTO entry reduced the US manufacturing price index by 7.6% between 2000 and 2006, with most of this effect arising from China reducing its own import tariffs. US consumers gained because they paid less for manufactured goods and because they had access to more varieties of goods.

Scott Baier, Yoto Yotov, Thomas Zylkin, 28 April 2017

There is a large empirical literature examining the effects of free trade agreements. However, most studies to date have focused on a common average effect across all agreements or have assumed that the effects are common across similar types of agreements. This column examines heterogeneity in the effects of free trade agreements. Along with across-agreement heterogeneity, substantial within-agreement heterogeneity is observed. The effects of a specific agreement can be starkly different for two trading partners.

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.

Gary Hufbauer, Euijin Jung, 29 September 2016

Donald Trump has consistently made headlines with unusual and potentially dangerous economic policy proposals, including threatening to pull out of the WTO, renegotiating trade agreements, and imposing tariffs on imports from Mexico and China. This column explores the legal and economic dimensions of these proposals. Old and modern legal statutes could allow a US president to implement such policies, and the repercussions for the US economy could be severely negative.

Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, 26 July 2016

Trade ministries, just as other parts of government, need to respond to calls from the public and from global leaders for action on major issues. This column argues that armed with potential policy options identified through the E15Initiative, the WTO is equipped to contribute to solutions in many areas. Purposeful efforts over the coming months and years could help to boost the WTO’s essential and valuable place in ensuring a responsive and inclusive furtherance of globalisation and trade and investment integration that delivers sustainable development outcomes for all.    

Emanuel Ornelas, 14 May 2016

For over half a century, one pillar of the world trading system has been the principle of ‘special and differential treatment’ (SDT) for developing countries. This column explores how SDT has impacted trade policy around the world. Although this strategy aims to help developing countries, in design and practice it seems to be biased against them. While there is no support for SDT as a growth-promoting strategy, there is a clear need for further research that explicitly tackles the empirical challenges that it presents. 

Shujiro Urata, 16 February 2016

A series of mega-regional free trade agreements are currently being negotiated. This column argues that Japan is in a unique position to be able to negotiate with due regard for consistency among these agreements. It should thus seek to bring negotiations to a successful end and to expand and integrate the mega-regional FTAs. This will help rebuild the world trade regime so as to pave the way for achieving economic growth for the entire world.

Bernard Hoekman, Petros Mavroidis, 03 February 2016

The 2015 Nairobi WTO Ministerial unshackled governments from the deadlocked Doha Development Agenda and opened the door for new issues and new approaches. The Ministerial Declaration calls on new initiatives to be agreed by consensus. This column argues that WTO procedures permit ‘clubs’ of countries to agree on additional policy disciplines if the benefits extend on a non-discriminatory basis to all WTO members. Consensus is not needed for such clubs. 

Tsuyoshi Kawase, 10 January 2016

An agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership has finally been reached, after many twists and turns. This column examines the new set of rules comprising the agreement, and asks whether the TPP is, as claimed, a 21st century agreement or just an expanded version of a US-style FTA. While the TPP is undoubtedly a highly ambitious agreement that includes areas unaddressed by WTO disciplines, its success rests ultimately on the dispute settlement procedures.

Gary Hufbauer, 21 December 2015

The WTO members struck a deal in Nairobi at their Ministerial Conference that many have found hard to understand.  Leading up to the conference, there was widespread agreement that the WTO’s multilateral negotiations – known as the Doha Development Agenda – should be finished or finished off, as they had dragged on too long already (since 2001).  This column, by one of the world’s most seasoned trade policy experts, argues that the Nairobi Declaration finished off Doha for good, but it also finished several important elements of the original agenda.  Both developed and developing nations won important gains. 

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