David M. Higgins, Brian Varian, 27 April 2019

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Britain tried to reorient its trade towards the Empire via an advertising campaign led by the Empire Marketing Board. As this column shows, in economic terms, the initiative was a complete failure, producing no increase in the Empire’s share of Britain’s imports. Imperial sentiment conflicted with economic reality: Britain was the biggest global importer of produce from the late 19th century to the interwar period, and the EMB’s activities were constrained by entrenched consumer preferences for non-Empire foodstuffs, such as Argentine beef and Danish butter.

Brian Varian, 23 June 2018

Brexit has sparked interest in trade agreements between Britain and the Commonwealth. This has a precedent in the Edwardian era, when the Dominions adopted policies of imperial preference toward imports from Britain. This column argues that New Zealand’s policy of imperial preference, enacted in 1903, was ineffective in diverting trade toward Britain, suggesting that trade policies within the British Empire or Commonwealth do not always achieve what they intend. 

Events

CEPR Policy Research