First globalization: Why did France miss the boat?
Starting from Bairoch’s observation of declining French foreign trade, especially in emerging markets during the first globalization (1880-1914), this article endeavours to identify the sources for the failure to exploit the opportunities afforded by global economic growth after 1870. For this purpose a comprehensive dataset of French imports and exports of unparalleled size was assembled to investigate the changes these underwent both in geographical and product distribution over a period of 64 years. Applying standard tests of trade flow concentration, we find that France’s trade structure reflected its early intra-industry specialization which implied increasing reliance on ‘proximity’ markets.
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