Peter Petri, Michael Plummer, 09 July 2020

The US-China trade war has negatively affected global growth and trade prospects, redirecting supply chains and leading to inefficiencies. However, this column suggests that emerging mega-regional trade agreements, including the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, have the potential to compensate for the trade war by reducing regional costs. Such agreements are likely to lead to deeper integration within Asia, especially among Japan, China, and Korea. They could also trigger further economic distancing between Asia and the US, and a large increase in the influence of China.

Matteo Fiorini, Bernard Hoekman, Petros Mavroidis, Douglas Nelson, Robert Wolfe, 08 July 2020

The WTO is looking for a new Director-General. This column reports on selected results of a recent survey designed to help identify what the trade community thinks is needed. The results suggest strong support for someone with managerial and political experience, and a professional network that spans international organisations, major capitals, and international business. African respondents assign the highest priority to regional diversity. Overall, there is a distinct contrast between the preferred profile and that of the incumbent.

Jean Imbs, Laurent Pauwels, 26 June 2020

Exposure to foreign shocks is often thought to be highly dependent on foreign trade and measures of openness usually build exclusively on measures of direct trade. This column argues that in a world of global value chains, focusing on direct trade gives a distorted view of the exposure to foreign shocks. It proposes a new measure of openness which computes the fraction of gross output sold to downstream customers located abroad. This measure finds most sectors to be more open and this increased openness is estimated to cause rises in productivity and contagion, without observable effects on growth.

Koen Berden, Joseph Francois, Fredrik Erixon, 26 June 2020

Calls for more protectionism have been on the rise for some time now, and have surged again with the Covid-19 pandemic. This column points to similar policies and their negative consequences during the Great Depression. Discussing similarities and differences of the economic situation between then and now and drawing on lessons from the Great Depression, it highlights the very negative consequences of increasing protectionism.

Stefano Federico, Fadi Hassan, Veronica Rappoport, 25 June 2020

In a period where the backlash against trade and globalisation is at historical high point, it is crucial to understand the frictions that prevent a full realisation of the gains from trade. This column takes evidence from Italy and contributes to the debate by identifying a novel channel: the endogenous funding constraint of banks whose loan portfolios are affected negatively by the liberalisation. There are spillovers between ‘losers’ and ‘winners’ from trade that operate through banks, which hinder the reallocation of resources towards firms that should actually expand after the liberalisation.

Inga Heiland, Karen-Helene Ulltveit-Moe, 17 May 2020

As almost 80% of trade is carried by sea, it is evident that disruptions to sea transport can damage trade flows and disrupt supply chains. COVID-19 containment policies have hit sea transport severely. Many key ports have imposed restrictions on vessels and crew, including prohibitions that have stopped crew changes. Satellite data for ships show that sailings to destinations with crew-change restrictions are down by almost 20% for container ships compared to previous years. More flexible regulations based on screening and discretion are needed to ensure the continuity of freight distribution in order to secure that supply chains do not get a double hit.

Simon Evenett, 13 May 2020

Taken from CEPR / LSE IGA / SPP webinar on: Covid-19: Keeping Trade Routes Open. 30 April 2020.

How long will the current Covid-led liberalisation of trade regimes towards medical products last and are their ways of encouraging countries to maintain them? Simon Evenett (University of St. Gallen and CEPR)

Swati Dhingra, 13 May 2020

Taken from a CEPR / LSE IGA / SPP webinar on: Covid-19: Keeping Trade Routes Open. 30 April 2020 Although there is likely to be some move towards protectionism and domestic policies in trade, some sectors, such as services and digital and data flows are still very much multi-national affairs.

Chang Ma, John Rogers, Sili Zhou, 13 May 2020

Forecasting the progress and impact of COVID-19 is central to the planning of policymakers around the world. This column provides a historical perspective by examining the immediate and bounce-back effects from six post-war disease shocks. GDP growth contractions are immediate and sizeable, but vary across countries. Despite an immediate ‘bounce back’, GDP tends to remain below its pre-shock level for several years. The negative effect on GDP is felt less in countries with larger first-year responses in government spending, especially on health care, and the indirect effects on GDP growth from affected trading partners are also important.

Bernard Hoekman, Douglas Nelson, 08 May 2020

Prior to the re-emergence of tariff nationalism as espoused by the Trump administration, subsidies were becoming a central source of trade tensions between major economies. The prospect of trade conflicts associated with the use of such instruments to combat climate change was increasing. Policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a massive increase in subsidisation of firms in many countries. This column argues for a revisit of current approaches to addressing subsidy conflicts. The need for cooperation between the major economies to manage the international competitive spillovers of subsidies was evident pre-COVID-19. It has now become much more urgent.

Simon Evenett, 30 April 2020

Simon Evenett is co-editor of and contributor to the new Vox book COVID-19 and Trade Policy: Why Turning Inward Won't Work. Can individual countries be persuaded that if global trade standards work for them during the pandemic then there is no need to revert back to national regulations?

Richard Baldwin, 29 April 2020

The key items for overcoming Covid-19, such as PPE, vaccines and antibody tests, are all the product of 'global factories'.  Richard Baldwin explains that the notion that export bans could result in more being available just doesn't make sense.

Richard Baldwin, Simon Evenett, 29 April 2020

Incomes and trade are collapsing worldwide. Many nations have imposed export restrictions on medical supplies and food, raising the spectre of across-the-broad protectionism. This column introduces a new eBook that asks: Should governments turn inward? The answer is “No”. Turning inwards won’t help tackle the health crisis, it will harm many (especially in developing nations), and it will hinder the collaborative spirit that the human race will need to defeat this disease. Trade isn’t part of the problem – it’s an essential part of the solution.

Alejandro Cuñat, Robert Zymek, 17 February 2020

Most countries exhibit large variation in bilateral trade balances across their trade partners. This column argues that it is possible to use gravity trade models to describe the sources of this variation with greater clarity, but that a large portion of the variation still remains poorly understood. It also shows that tariffs imposed during the US-China trade war will reduce the US-China trade deficit in the long run, but only by worsening the US trade balance with other trade partners almost one-for-one.

Gunes Gokmen, Wessel Vermeulen, Pierre-Louis Vézina, 01 February 2020

Throughout history, empires have facilitated trade within their territories by building and securing trade and migration routes, and by imposing common norms, languages, religions, and legal systems, all of which led to the accumulation of imperial capital. This column, based on novel data on the rise and fall of empires over the last 5,000 years, shows that imperial capital has a positive effect on current trade beyond historical legacies such as sharing a language or a religion. This suggests a persistent and previously unexplored influence of long-gone empires on current trade.

Cristina Constantinescu, Michele Ruta, Aaditya Mattoo, 23 December 2019

Francis Kramarz, Julien Martin, Isabelle Mejean, 11 December 2019

Economists continue to disagree about whether international trade exacerbates or diminishes volatility. This column presents firm-level evidence from French exporters and their European trading partners over 15 years to show that firm-level volatility increases individual-level and aggregate-level volatility. High concentration among buyers as well as suppliers can amplify these shocks.

Natasha Agarwal, Magnus Lodefalk, Majken Stenberg, Aili Tang, Sofia Tano, Zheng Wang, 11 December 2019

Export credit guarantees turned 100 this year, yet they have been sparsely studied. This column examines the causal effects of export credit guarantees on firm performance. It concludes by considering whether the provision of guarantees should be rebalanced in favour of small and medium-sized enterprises and by calling for governments to urgently integrate all major countries into a regulated system for export credit guarantees.

Andrea Ariu, Katariina Nilsson Hakkala , J. Bradford Jensen, Saara Tamminen, 22 November 2019

Global trade in services increased six-fold between 1990-2017, representing a threat for workers but a growth opportunity for firms that source these services at lowest cost. This column examines the changes in employment composition and performance of Finnish service importers. Firms that increased imports of service inputs reduced employment of low-skill service workers but increased employment of managers. They also improved their sales, assets, and service exports, and were more likely to survive.

Céline Carrère, Anja Grujovic, Frédéric Robert-Nicoud, 13 November 2019

Unemployment is absent from most quantitative trade models in the academic literature. Using a trade model that also includes unemployment and data between 2001 and 2008, this column shows that repealing NAFTA and the imposition of 20% bilateral tariffs between the US and Mexico in all sectors would reduce welfare by 0.31% in the US and by 6.6% in Mexico. An US increase of trade barriers on motor vehicles against imports from all countries bar Mexico and Canada would lead to a decrease in long-run welfare and employment in both Mexico and the US as well as in major car-producing countries. 

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