The Political Economy of Pre-industrial Trade in Northeast Asia
This paper examines why the countries of Northeast Asia (China, Korea, and Japan) in the early nineteenth century traded much less (as measured by the proportion of trade to GDP) than most countries in other parts of the world. It is argued that the most important reason for this are government policies that suppressed private trade. It is shown that these restrictive trade policies were designed to maximize the total net benefit from trade, covering not only economic net benefits but also non-economic benefits in the fields of diplomacy, defense, culture, and internal politics.
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