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Impact Evaluation of Trade Interventions: Paving the Way


  • Cadot, Olivier
  • Fernandes, Ana
  • Gourdon, Julien
  • Mattoo, Aaditya


The focus of trade policy has shifted in recent years from economy-wide reductions in tariffs and trade restrictions towards targeted interventions to facilitate trade and promote exports. Most of these latter interventions are based on the new mantra of "aid-for-trade" rather than on hard evidence on what works and what doesn’t. On the one hand, rigorous impact-evaluation is needed to justify these interventions and to improve their design. On the other hand, rigorous evaluation is feasible because unlike traditional trade policy, these interventions tend to be targeted and so it is possible to construct treatment and control groups. When interventions are not targeted, such as in the case of customs reforms, some techniques, such as randomized control trials, may not be feasible but meaningful evaluation may still be possible. We discuss examples of impact evaluations using a range of methods (experimental and non-experimental) highlighting the particular issues and caveats arising in a trade context, and the valuable lessons that are already being learnt. We argue that systematically building impact evaluation into trade projects could lead to better policy design and a more credible case for "aid-for-trade."

Suggested Citation

  • Cadot, Olivier & Fernandes, Ana & Gourdon, Julien & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2011. "Impact Evaluation of Trade Interventions: Paving the Way," CEPR Discussion Papers 8638, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8638

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Frederick Mayer & William Milberg, 2013. "Aid for Trade in a world of global value chains: chain power, the distribution of rents and implications for the form of aid," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series ctg-2013-34, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
    2. Independent Evaluation Group, 2013. "Evaluation of the International Finance Corporation's Global Trade Finance Program, 2006-12," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15769.

    More about this item


    aid for trade; export promotion; impact evaluation; propensity-score matching; randomized control trials; trade competitiveness; trade facilitation;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy

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