IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/16550.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

China's Foreign Trade: Perspectives From the Past 150 Years

Author

Listed:
  • Wolfgang Keller
  • Ben Li
  • Carol H. Shiue

Abstract

This paper studies the trade of China in the past 150 years, starting from the first opening of China after the Opium War. The main purpose of the paper is to identify what is (and was) China's 'normal' level of foreign trade, and how these levels changed under different trade regimes, from 1840 to the present. We present new evidence on China's foreign trade during the treaty port era (1842-1948), drawn from disaggregated trade data collected by the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, that yields important findings for current research. First, although the volume of foreign trade remained limited initially, there was a notable expansion in the diversity of products, with many new goods being imported into China. Second, the regional diffusion of foreign goods through China was greatly facilitated by the expansions of the port system. Third, the importance of Hong Kong as an intermediary in China's trade has undergone long-term fluctuations suggestive of learning effects. China's recent wave of liberalization has led by the early 1990s to a trade level comparable to the high of the 1920s. While much of China's recent growth in world trade is in line with her income growth, there is no doubt that China's trade openness today, comparable by some measures to Denmark's, is a stunning reversal relative to the pre-1978 and also the pre-1840 period. The paper emphasizes the roles that history and institutional change have played in this.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfgang Keller & Ben Li & Carol H. Shiue, 2010. "China's Foreign Trade: Perspectives From the Past 150 Years," NBER Working Papers 16550, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16550
    Note: DAE ITI POL
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16550.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ronald Findlay & Kevin H. O'Rourke, 2007. "Power and Plenty: Trade, War and the World Economy in the Second Millennium (Preface)," Trinity Economics Papers tep0107, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    2. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Wing Thye Woo, 2000. "Understanding china's economic performance," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 1-50.
    3. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2006. "Globalization and the Gains From Variety," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 541-585.
    4. Nathan Nunn, 2007. "Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(2), pages 569-600.
    5. Rawski, Thomas G., 1969. "Chinese dominance of treaty port commerce and its implications, 1860-1875," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-2), pages 451-473.
    6. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2004. "Intermediaries in Entrepot Trade: Hong Kong Re-Exports of Chinese Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 3-35, March.
    7. Zhi Wang & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "What Accounts for the Rising Sophistication of China's Exports?," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 63-104 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Mary Amiti & Caroline Freund, 2010. "The Anatomy of China's Export Growth," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 35-56 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Wolfgang Keller & Carol H. Shiue, 2007. "Market Integration and Economic Development: A Long-run Comparison," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(1), pages 107-123, February.
    10. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2007. "Institutional Quality and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 791-819.
    11. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond Robertson, 2010. "China and the Manufacturing Exports of Other Developing Countries," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 137-159 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Irene Brambilla & Amit K. Khandelwal & Peter K. Schott, 2010. "China's Experience under the Multi-Fiber Arrangement (MFA) and the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing (ATC)," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 345-387 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Robert Koopman & Zhi Wang & Shang-Jin Wei, 2008. "How Much of Chinese Exports is Really Made In China? Assessing Domestic Value-Added When Processing Trade is Pervasive," NBER Working Papers 14109, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Ahn, JaeBin & Khandelwal, Amit K. & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2011. "The role of intermediaries in facilitating trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 73-85, May.
    15. Robert C. Feenstra & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "China's Growing Role in World Trade," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feen07-1.
    16. Pol Antràs & Arnaud Costinot, 2011. "Intermediated Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(3), pages 1319-1374.
    17. John Whalley, 2006. "China in the World Trading System," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 52(2), pages 215-245, June.
    18. William R. Cline, 2010. "Renminbi Undervaluation, China's Surplus, and the US Trade Deficit," Policy Briefs PB10-20, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
    19. Kyoji Fukao & Kozo Kiyota & Ximing Yue, 2006. "China's Long-Term International Trade Statistics: By Commodity, 1952-1964 and 1981-2000," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d05-147, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    20. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Trade," NBER Working Papers 8712, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Jennifer Abel-Koch, 2013. "Who Uses Intermediaries in International Trade? Evidence from Firm-level Survey Data," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(8), pages 1041-1064, August.
    2. Markus Lampe & Paul Sharp, 2015. "How the Danes discovered Britain: the international integration of the Danish dairy industry before 1880," European Review of Economic History, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 432-453.
    3. Dobado-González, Rafael, 2013. "La globalización hispana del comercio y el arte en la Edad Moderna
      [The hispanic globalization of commerce and art in the early modern era]
      ," MPRA Paper 51112, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Loren Brandt & Debin Ma & Thomas G. Rawski, 2014. "From Divergence to Convergence: Reevaluating the History behind China's Economic Boom," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(1), pages 45-123, March.
    5. Funke, Michael & Yu, Hao, 2011. "The emergence and spatial distribution of Chinese seaport cities," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 196-209, June.
    6. Keller, Wolfgang & Andres Santiago, Javier & Shiue, Carol H., 2017. "China's domestic trade during the Treaty-Port Era," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 26-43.
    7. Wilson Au-Yeung & Alison Keys & Paul Fischer, 2012. "Australia-China: Not just 40 years," Economic Roundup, The Treasury, Australian Government, issue 4, pages 7-41, December.
    8. Jackie M.L. Chan, 2015. "Trade Intermediation, Financial Frictions, and the Gains from Trade," Discussion Papers 15-009, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    9. Swee, Eik Leong & Panza, Laura, 2016. "Good geography, good institutions? Historical evidence from nineteenth-century British colonies," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 264-283.
    10. Randall Morck & Bernard Yeung, 2017. "East Asian Financial and Economic Development," Working Papers id:12112, eSocialSciences.
    11. Xuefeng, Qian & Yaşar, Mahmut, 2016. "Export Market Diversification and Firm Productivity: Evidence from a Large Developing Country," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 28-47.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • N25 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N45 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16550. 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: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.