IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Shanghai’s Trade, China’s Growth: Continuity, Recovery, and Change since the Opium War

  • Keller, Wolfgang
  • Li, Ben
  • Shiue, Carol Hua

In this paper, we provide aggregate trends in China’s trade performance from the 1840s to the present. Based on historical benchmarks, we argue that China’s recent gains are not exclusively due to the reforms since 1978. Rather, foreign economic activity can be understood by developments that were set in motion in the 19th century. We turn our focus to Shanghai, currently the world’s largest port. Shanghai began direct trade relations with western nations starting in 1843. By 1853, Shanghai already accounted for more than half of China’s foreign trade. In tracking the levels and growth rates of the city’s net and gross imports and exports, foreign direct investment, and foreign residents over more than a century, we find that Shanghai’s level of bilateral trade today with the United States, the United Kingdom, or Japan, for example, are by no means high given Shanghai’s 19th century experience. This paper argues that a regional approach that embeds national trading destinations within an international trading system provides a meaningful approach to understanding the history of China’s trade.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8808.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8808
Contact details of provider: Postal: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 77 Bastwick Street, London EC1V 3PZ.
Phone: 44 - 20 - 7183 8801
Fax: 44 - 20 - 7183 8820

Order Information: Email:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti & Zheng Song, 2009. "Growing like China," 2009 Meeting Papers 912, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Scholarly Articles 3445092, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Markusen, James R., 1984. "Multinationals, multi-plant economies, and the gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 205-226, May.
  4. Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano & Diego Puga, 1997. "Agglomeration in a global economy: a survey," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20324, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Historical Economic Geography

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8808. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

The email address of this maintainer does not seem to be valid anymore. Please ask to update the entry or send us the correct address

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.