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Protectionist Responses to the Crisis: Damage Observed in Product-Level Trade

  • Bradley J. McDonald
  • Christian Henn
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    This paper investigates how trade flows are being affected by new discriminatory measures implemented during the global financial crisis. We match data on behind-the-border measures (e.g., bailouts and subsidies) and border measures implemented through April 2010 to monthly HS 4-digit bilateral trade data. Our estimation strategy relies on a first-differenced gravity equation and time-varying fixed effects to disentangle the impact of new discriminatory measures. Trade in exporter-importer pairs subject to new measures decreased by 5 to 8 percent relative to trade in the same product among pairs not subject to new measures. These product-level results imply global trade declines at the aggregate level of about 0.2 percent, or $30-35 billion a year. These aggregate figures would be higher, if one third of measures had not been excluded due to incomplete data. The paper then goes on to dissect protectionism’s trade impact by disaggregating measures by type, advanced/developing countries, regions, sectors, and time. Behind-the-border measures are found to have been more harmful than border measures at the product level. Among border measures, impacts tend to be higher for less transparent measures. Advanced countries are found to be responsible for 2/3 of the trade decline due to crisis protectionism, but their exports also absorbed 2/3 of this decline. When breaking down measures in a time dimension, we find that those taken in the first nine months after the Lehman collapse were most harmful and likely continue to constitute a drag on trade.

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    Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 11/139.

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    Length: 41
    Date of creation: 01 Jun 2011
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:11/139
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    1. Barry Eichengreen & Douglas A. Irwin, 2009. "The Slide to Protectionism in the Great Depression: Who Succumbed and Why?," NBER Working Papers 15142, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Theo S. Eicher & Christian Henn, 2008. "In Search of WTO Trade Effects: Preferential Trade Agreements Promote Trade Strongly, But Unevenly," Working Papers UWEC-2008-22-FC, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    4. Bussière, Matthieu & Pérez-Barreiro, Emilia & Straub, Roland & Taglioni, Daria, 2010. "Protectionist responses to the crisis – global trends and implications," Occasional Paper Series 110, European Central Bank.
    5. Yvan Decreux & Lionel Fontagné, 2011. "Economic Impact of Potential Outcome of the DDA," Working Papers 2011-23, CEPII research center.
    6. Susumu Imai & Hajime Katayama & Kala Krishna, 2006. "Protection for Sale or Surge Protection?," NBER Working Papers 12258, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Guimaraes, Paulo & Portugal, Pedro, 2009. "A Simple Feasible Alternative Procedure to Estimate Models with High-Dimensional Fixed Effects," IZA Discussion Papers 3935, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. I-Hui Cheng & Howard J. Wall, 2005. "Controlling for heterogeneity in gravity models of trade and integration," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 49-63.
    9. Rob Gregory & Christian Henn & Brad Mcdonald & Mika Saito, 2010. "Trade And The Crisis: Protect Or Recover," Journal of International Commerce, Economics and Policy (JICEP), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 1(02), pages 165-181.
    10. Hiau Looi Kee & Cristina Neagu & Alessandro Nicita, 2013. "Is Protectionism on the Rise? Assessing National Trade Policies during the Crisis of 2008," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 342-346, March.
    11. Andrei A. Levchenko & Logan Lewis & Linda L. Tesar, 2009. "The Collapse of International Trade During the 2008-2009 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," Working Papers 592, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
    12. Christian Broda & Joshua Greenfield & David Weinstein, 2006. "From Groundnuts to Globalization: A Structural Estimate of Trade and Growth," NBER Working Papers 12512, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Andrei A Levchenko & Logan T Lewis & Linda L Tesar, 2010. "The Collapse of International Trade during the 2008–09 Crisis: In Search of the Smoking Gun," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 58(2), pages 214-253, December.
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