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Shanghai's Trade, China's Growth: Continuity, Recovery, and Change since the Opium War

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  • Wolfgang Keller
  • Ben Li
  • Carol H. Shiue

Abstract

In this paper, we provide aggregate trends in China's trade performance from the 1840s to the present. Based on historical benchmarks, we argue that China's recent gains are not exclusively due to the reforms since 1978. Rather, foreign economic activity can be understood by developments that were set in motion in the 19th century. We turn our focus to Shanghai, currently the world's largest port. Shanghai began direct trade relations with western nations starting in 1843. By 1853, Shanghai already accounted for more than half of China's foreign trade. In tracking the levels and growth rates of the city's net and gross imports and exports, foreign direct investment, and foreign residents over more than a century, we find that Shanghai's level of bilateral trade today with the United States, the United Kingdom, or Japan, for example, are by no means high given Shanghai's 19th century experience. This paper argues that a regional approach that embeds national trading destinations within an international trading system provides a meaningful approach to understanding the history of China's trade.

Suggested Citation

  • Wolfgang Keller & Ben Li & Carol H. Shiue, 2012. "Shanghai's Trade, China's Growth: Continuity, Recovery, and Change since the Opium War," NBER Working Papers 17754, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17754
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. S.K. Bhutani, 2009. "China and India," India Quarterly: A Journal of International Affairs, , vol. 65(4), pages 383-391, October.
    2. Markusen, James R., 1984. "Multinationals, multi-plant economies, and the gains from trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3-4), pages 205-226, May.
    3. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2009. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1403-1448.
    4. G Ottaviano & Diego Puga, 1997. "Agglomeration in a global Economy: A Survey," CEP Discussion Papers dp0356, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Zheng Song & Kjetil Storesletten & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2011. "Growing Like China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 196-233, February.
    6. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-471, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ahmed, Khalid & Bhattacharya, Mita & Qazi, Ahmer Qasim & Long, Wei, 2016. "Energy consumption in China and underlying factors in a changing landscape: Empirical evidence since the reform period," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 224-234.
    2. Rafael, Dobado-González & Alfredo, García-Hiernaux & David, Guerrero-Burbano, 2013. "West versus East: Early Globalization and the Great Divergence," MPRA Paper 48773, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. 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.
    4. MA, Ye & JONG, Herman de, 2016. "Unfolding the Turbulent Century: A Reconstruction of China's Economic Development, 1840-1912," Discussion paper series HIAS-E-29, Hitotsubashi Institute for Advanced Study, Hitotsubashi University.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • N81 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • N83 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N85 - Economic History - - Micro-Business History - - - Asia including Middle East
    • N95 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - Asia including Middle East
    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth

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