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The Political Economy of Pre-industrial Trade in Northeast Asia


  • Hun-Chang Lee


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Hun-Chang Lee, 2007. "The Political Economy of Pre-industrial Trade in Northeast Asia," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d07-219, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hst:hstdps:d07-219

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hun-Chang Lee & Peter Temin, 2010. "The Political Economy of Preindustrial Korean Trade," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 166(3), pages 548-571, September.
    2. Tirthankar Roy, 2002. "Economic History and Modern India: Redefining the Link," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 109-130, Summer.
    3. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2005. "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change, and Economic Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 546-579, June.
    4. Temin, Peter, 1997. "Is it Kosher to Talk about Culture?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(02), pages 267-287, June.
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    trade policy; Northeast Asia; tribute system; private trade; maritime ban; geography; culture;

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