Gabriel Felbermayr, Yoto Yotov, 14 April 2021

Whether or not large bilateral trade imbalances are a signal of non-reciprocal (or ‘unfair’) trade costs has been the subject of debate for some time, and was brought to the fore during President Trump’s time in office. This column argues that if the trading partners’ average trade costs with the whole of the world are taken into account, then the ‘unfair trade’ argument does not hold up. Using standard gravity modeling, the authors find that up to 88% of the variance in bilateral balances can be explained without making any reference to asymmetries in bilateral trade costs.

Kym Anderson, 16 February 2020

Global alcoholic beverage markets have changed dramatically in recent years due to globalisation, income growth in emerging economies, changes in individual preferences, policy initiatives to curb socially harmful drinking, and, in particular, the dual trade policy shocks of Brexit and the US’s unilaterally imposed discriminatory tariffs. This column provides an overview of the major trends and projects the possible effects of Brexit and the US tariffs on the global alcohol market. It concludes that both shocks would reduce world trade in wine. Even countries not targeted by US tariffs can be worse off if those tariffs sufficiently reduce global consumption. 

David Jacks, Dennis Novy, 23 July 2019

Against the backdrop of new tariffs imposed by the Trump administration and retaliation from targeted countries, notably China, the trade wars of the 1930s have received renewed attention. This column argues that they mainly served to intensify a pre-existing trend towards the formation of trade blocs. The trade wars of the present day may therefore serve a similar purpose as those in the 1930s, that is, the intensification of China- and US-centric trade blocs.

Yi Huang, Chen Lin, Sibo Liu, Heiwai Tang, 25 June 2019

Recent studies have found that US tariffs on China have led to a significant welfare loss and significant increases in consumer prices in the US. This column, taken from a recent Vox eBook, studies firms’ equity market responses to the various tariff announcements by the US and Chinese governments in 2018 and 2019. The responses demonstrate that the structure of US–China trade is much more complex than the simplistic view of global trade that prompted the trade war, and that the winners and losers in the war depend on firms’ positioning in, and exposure to, the global value chains shared by the two countries.  

Yasuyuki Todo, 27 February 2019

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.


CEPR Policy Research