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The Impact of Geopolitical Conflicts on Trade, Growth, and Innovation


  • Carlos G'oes
  • Eddy Bekkers


Geopolitical conflicts have increasingly been a driver of trade policy. We study the potential effects of global and persistent geopolitical conflicts on trade, technological innovation, and economic growth. In conventional trade models the welfare costs of such conflicts are modest. We build a multi-sector multi-region general equilibrium model with dynamic sector-specific knowledge diffusion, which magnifies welfare losses of trade conflicts. Idea diffusion is mediated by the input-output structure of production, such that both sector cost shares and import trade shares characterize the source distribution of ideas. Using this framework, we explore the potential impact of a "decoupling of the global economy," a hypothetical scenario under which technology systems would diverge in the global economy. We divide the global economy into two geopolitical blocs -- East and West -- based on foreign policy similarity and model decoupling through an increase in iceberg trade costs (full decoupling) or tariffs (tariff decoupling). Results yield three main insights. First, the projected welfare losses for the global economy of a decoupling scenario can be drastic, as large as 15% in some regions and are largest in the lower income regions as they would benefit less from technology spillovers from richer areas. Second, the described size and pattern of welfare effects are specific to the model with diffusion of ideas. Without diffusion of ideas the size and variation across regions of the welfare losses would be substantially smaller. Third, a multi-sector framework exacerbates diffusion inefficiencies induced by trade costs relative to a single-sector one.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos G'oes & Eddy Bekkers, 2022. "The Impact of Geopolitical Conflicts on Trade, Growth, and Innovation," Papers 2203.12173,, revised Jan 2023.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:2203.12173

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Enghin Atalay, 2017. "How Important Are Sectoral Shocks?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 254-280, October.
    2. Fernando E. Alvarez & Francisco J. Buera & Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2013. "Idea Flows, Economic Growth, and Trade," NBER Working Papers 19667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
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    5. Nan Li & Ana Maria Santacreu & Jie Cai, 2016. "Knowledge Diffusion and Trade Across Countries and Sectors," 2016 Meeting Papers 650, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    6. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Andres Rodriguez-Clare, 2012. "New Trade Models, Same Old Gains?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 94-130, February.
    7. Italo Colantone & Piero Stanig, 2018. "The Trade Origins of Economic Nationalism: Import Competition and Voting Behavior in Western Europe," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 62(4), pages 936-953, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daragh Clancy & Donal Smith & Vilém Valenta, 2024. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Global Supply Chain Reorientation," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 20(2), pages 151-191, April.
    2. Ronnie Figueiredo & Mohammad Soliman & Alamir N. Al-Alawi & Maria José Sousa, 2022. "The Impacts of Geopolitical Risks on the Energy Sector: Micro-Level Operative Analysis in the European Union," Economies, MDPI, vol. 10(12), pages 1-12, November.
    3. Giuseppe Celi & Dario Guarascio & Jelena Reljic & Annamaria Simonazzi & Francesco Zezza, 2022. "The Asymmetric Impact of War: Resilience, Vulnerability and Implications for EU Policy," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics;Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), vol. 57(3), pages 141-147, May.
    4. Robert B. Koopman & Mary Lisa Madell, 2023. "A fairer and more resilient multilateral trading system will require a reinvigorated WTO," Global Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 14(S2), pages 35-39, March.
    5. Métivier, Jeanne & Bacchetta, Marc & Bekkers, Eddy & Koopman, Robert, 2023. "International trade cooperation’s impact on the world economy," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 713-744.
    6. Blanga-Gubbay, Michael & Rubínová, Stela, 2023. "Is the global economy fragmenting?," WTO Staff Working Papers ERSD-2023-10, World Trade Organization (WTO), Economic Research and Statistics Division.
    7. Khlil, Brahim, 2024. "The United Nation in a Multipolar World: Assessing Its Role and Relevance in Africa's Future," OSF Preprints q3nbz, Center for Open Science.
    8. JINJI Naoto & OZAWA Shunya, 2024. "Impact of Technological Decoupling between the United States and China on Trade and Welfare," Discussion papers 24041, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    9. Norring, Anni, 2024. "Geoeconomic fragmentation, globalization, and multilateralism," BoF Economics Review 2/2024, Bank of Finland.
    10. Cui, Lianbiao & Yue, Suyun & Nghiem, Xuan-Hoa & Duan, Mei, 2023. "Exploring the risk and economic vulnerability of global energy supply chain interruption in the context of Russo-Ukrainian war," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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