The value of world trade is falling. This column, which introduces the 18th Global Trade Alert report, shows that the manufactures that account for a large share of the fall are those where G20 nations have imposed the most trade restrictions since 2014. G20 leaders should request that the Chinese G20 Presidency support initiatives to revive global trade and avoid more trade distortions.
Simon J Evenett, Johannes Fritz, 12 November 2015
Emine Boz, Matthieu Bussière, Clément Marsilli, 12 November 2014
The past three years have witnessed a slowdown in global trade. This column shows that the slowdown was particularly pronounced in advanced economies, especially the Eurozone. In a panel of 18 OECD economies, most of the slowdown can be explained by cyclical factors. However, structural factors – global value chains and especially protectionism – may have played a role too.
Chad P. Bown, 27 June 2014
Temporary trade barriers have become more than an important bellwether for contemporary protectionism; with persistent tariff levels, they are now a primary obstacle to free trade. The World Bank’s newly updated Temporary Trade Barriers Database suggests that the Great Recession-era increases in import protection may be levelling off. Now policymakers begin to face the daunting task of dismantling all of those temporary barriers they imposed during the early phase of the crisis.
Leandro Prados de la Escosura, 07 April 2014
Measures of economic freedom provide useful cross-country comparisons, but lack the time dimension to track intertemporal progress. This column presents a new measure and extends it back in time to tell a history of economic freedom over the course of the twentieth century.
Mario Mariniello, 09 November 2013
Since the adoption of the Anti-Monopoly law in 2007, the Chinese competition authorities have stepped up enforcement of mergers and anti-competitive practices. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has relied heavily on behavioural remedies in merger cases (as opposed to the more efficient structural remedies favoured by the European Commission). Furthermore, merger policy has been used to protect domestic industries from competition. In contrast, Chinese fines for cartels have shown no foreign bias, and if anything have been too low.
Anders Åslund, 04 September 2013
Emerging markets are under pressure. This column argues that this is not a mere headwind but that the BRICs’ party is over. Their ability to get going again rests on their ability to carry through reforms in grim times for which they lacked the courage in a boom.
Simon J Evenett, 03 September 2013
G20 leaders are currently meeting in St Petersburg to discuss protectionism. This column, which summarises the key findings of the new 14th Global Trade Alert report, argues that the current G20 approach to promoting open trade and investment is not working. In recent years G20 members resorted to protectionism more frequently than at the beginning of the economic crisis and, indeed, the stock of crisis-era protectionist measures imposed by the G20 members keeps on growing. The G20’s ‘softly softly’ approach isn’t working.
Simon J Evenett, 13 June 2013
Commentators increasingly talk about the steady rise of protectionism. This column presents evidence from the newest Global Trade Alert report to suggest that they’re right: the past twelve months have seen a quiet, artful, wide-ranging assault on free trade. Little of this has showed up in traditional monitoring. Protectionism in Q4 2012 and Q1 2013 far exceeds anything seen since the onset of the global financial crisis.
Dirk Schoenmaker, 18 April 2013
International banking is under threat in the aftermath of the Global Crisis Supervisors across the world are pushing for a split of international banks into national subsidiaries. This column discusses ‘financial protectionism’, offering some governance solutions that may help to international banks. These solutions boil down to burden sharing. In Europe, the first step is banking union.
Chad P. Bown, Meredith Crowley, 08 February 2013
For most of the postwar period, rich nations had much lower average tariffs than developing nations, but they frequently applied variable protection – dumping duties etc. – in reaction to business cycles and exchange-rate movements. Massive, unilateral tariff-cutting by developing nations since the 1990s evened out the averages. This column presents new evidence that emerging economies are now tying variable protection more closely to business cycles and exchange rates – just like the high-income economies.
Hylke Vandenbussche, Jozef Konings, 30 January 2013
The rise of international production sharing – ‘global value chains’ – has transformed international commerce and pushed economists into new territory. This column argues that there is evidence to suggest that old-fashioned protection can have an unexpected negative effect on firms that are part of a global value chain. In an increasingly globalised world, exporters’ success seems to positively depend on the free entry of imports rather than the other way round.
Laura Alfaro, Paola Conconi, Harald Fadinger, Patrick Legros, Andrew Newman, 02 December 2012
Increasingly, people are pointing the finger of blame for economic woe at large firms. This column argues that organisation design is often affected by government trade policy. If firm organisation design has implications for consumer welfare (in terms of prices and quality of product), evidence suggests that governments should make sure that in future, trade policy and corporate governance policy are more complementary.
José de Sousa, Thierry Mayer, Soledad Zignago , 20 November 2012
Do trade costs still matter in a modern era characterised by a fall in transaction costs? This column argues that there is a dearth of good analysis in the debate around market access difficulties. Complaining about restrictions in accessing foreign markets is political leaders’ current favourite hobby yet. In light of stalled WTO negotiations, shouldn’t rigour, not rhetoric, lead this debate?
J. Bradford Jensen, 19 November 2012
Should developed countries fear trade in services? Won’t high skilled jobs be lost to cheaper, developing country service workers? This column argues that trade in services represents a profitable opportunity as long as international trade in services is liberalised. The US and other developed countries should aggressively pursue fairer and thus more favourable terms under the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement.
Chad P. Bown, 18 August 2012
Is protectionism getting better or worse? This column analyses recent World Bank data from 24 major economies suggesting that import protection through temporary trade barriers – such as antidumping, safeguards, and countervailing duties – has increased considerably for a handful of mostly emerging markets in the past year. But the news is not all bad – some countries have lowered their trade barriers.
Marc Bacchetta, Cosimo Beverelli, 31 July 2012
The WTO and its predecessor the GATT have been remarkably successful in negotiating down tariffs over the past six decades. But trade is still a long way from free and since the global crisis, it is becoming even less so. This column reviews the facts, economics, and motives behind these new non-tariff barriers and discusses the challenges they pose for the WTO.
Simon J Evenett, 20 July 2012
Simon Evenett of the University of St Gallen talks to Viv Davies about the recent increase of protectionist measures in the world trading system. They also discuss the implications of the rise in regional trade agreements, the potential effects of Russia joining the WTO and the impact of slow growth in Europe on the region’s trade with the rest of the world. Evenett maintains that defenders of the world trading system should do more to prevent the current subordination of trade policy. The interview was recorded by telephone on 17 July 2012.
Chad P. Bown, Meredith Crowley, 14 July 2012
Antidumping tends to get no respect from economists. Many view the most popular import restriction among industrialised and middle-income economies today as politically-biased protectionism hiding behind the rhetoric of fair trade. This column challenges long-held perceptions by reinterpreting antidumping import restrictions as the grease that keeps the wheels of the liberal world trading system turning.
Gregory Corcos, Massimo Del Gatto, Giordano Mion, Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 10 July 2012
As protectionist pressures mount worldwide, it is important to continue to shore up the case for open trade policy. This column presents new evidence from Europe on an old gain from trade – the weeding out effect – namely the way increased cross-border competition selects and favours the most productive firms. It argues that this mechanism brings about large gains.
Simon J Evenett, 14 June 2012
The 11th GTA report provides a detailed account of the resort to beggar-thy-neighbour policies from the first crisis-era G20 summit in November 2008 until May 2012. The findings suggest that international restraints on contemporary protectionism are pretty weak and that if the battle against protectionism is to be won it must be fought in national capitals.