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The Roots of Latin American Protectionism: Looking Before the Great Depression

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Listed:
  • John H. Coatsworth
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

Abstract

This paper uncovers a fact that has not been well appreciated: tariffs in Latin America were far higher than anywhere else in the century before the Great Depression. This is a surprising fact given that this region has been said to have exploited globalization forces better than most during the pre-1914 belle epoque and for which the Great Depression has always been viewed as a critical policy turning point towards protection and de-linking from the world economy. This paper shows that the explanation cannot lie with output gains from protection, since, while such gains were present in Europe and its non-Latin offshoots, they were not present in Latin America. The paper then explores Latin American tariffs as a revenue source, as a protective device for special interests, and as the result of other political economy struggles. We conclude by asking whether the same pro-protection conditions exist today as those which existed more than a century ago.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Coatsworth & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "The Roots of Latin American Protectionism: Looking Before the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 8999, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8999
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Irwin, Douglas A, 1988. "Welfare Effects of British Free Trade: Debate and Evidence from the 1840s," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(6), pages 1142-1164, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlo Pietrobelli & Silvia Nenci, 2007. "Does tariff liberalization promote trade? Latin America in the long run (1900-2000)," Working Papers 0704, CREI Università degli Studi Roma Tre, revised 2007.
    2. Astorga, Pablo, 2010. "A century of economic growth in Latin America," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 232-243, July.
    3. Josef Falkinger & Volker Grossmann, 2005. "Institutions and Development: The Interaction Between Trade Regime and Political System," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 231-272, September.
    4. M. del Mar Rubio Varas, 2006. "Protectionist but globalised? Latin American custom duties and trade during the pre-1914 belle époque," Economics Working Papers 967, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    5. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "From Malthus to Ohlin: Trade, Growth and Distribution Since 1500," CEG Working Papers 20023, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
    6. Branko Milanovic, 2005. "The Modern World: The effect of democracy, colonialism and war on economic growth 1820-2000," Development and Comp Systems 0509002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Silvia Nenci, 2009. "Tariff liberatization and the growth of word trade: A comparative historiocal analysis to evaluate the multilateral trading system," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0110, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    8. Taylor, Alan M. & Wilson, Janine, 2006. "International Trade and Finance under the Two Hegemons: Complementarities in the United Kingdom (1870-1913) and the United States (1920-30)," CEPR Discussion Papers 5846, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2003. "Was It Stolper-Samuelson, Infant Industry or Something Else? World Trade Tariffs 1789-1938," NBER Working Papers 9656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Mohammed, Saif I. Shah & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2004. "Freight rates and productivity gains in British tramp shipping 1869-1950," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 172-203, April.
    11. Esteban Pérez-Caldentey & Matías Vernengo, 2007. "A Tale of Two Monetary Reforms: Argentinean Convertibility in Historical Perspective," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2007_01, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
    12. Astorga, Pablo, 2010. "A century of economic growth in Latin America," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(2), pages 232-243, July.
    13. Richard Sicotte & Catalina Vizcarra & Kirsten Wandschneider, 2009. "The fiscal impact of the War of the Pacific," Cliometrica, Journal of Historical Economics and Econometric History, Association Française de Cliométrie (AFC), vol. 3(2), pages 97-121, June.
    14. Timothy J. Hatton & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2005. "A Dual Policy Paradox: Why Have Trade and Immigration Policies Always Differed in Labor-Scarce Economies," NBER Working Papers 11866, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Willebald Remedios, Henry Francisco & Rodríguez, Javier & Castelnovo, Cecilia & Bértola, Luis, 2008. "Income distribution in the Latin American Southern Cone during the first globalization boom, ca: 1870-1920," IFCS - Working Papers in Economic History.WH wp08-05, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Instituto Figuerola.
    16. Leonardo Villar & Pilar Esguerra, 2005. "El Comercio Exterior Colombiano En El Siglo Xx," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 002468, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    17. repec:oxf:wpaper:75.2 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Michael A. Clemens & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2002. "Closed Jaguar, Open Dragon: Comparing Tariffs in Latin America and Asia before World War II," NBER Working Papers 9401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Irigoin, Maria Alejandra, 2006. "Gresham on horseback: the monetary roots of Spanish American political fragmentation in the nineteenth century," Economic History Working Papers 22321, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.
    20. Leonardo Villar & Pilar Esguerra, 2005. "Comercio Exterior Colombiano En El Siglo Xx," Borradores de Economia 358, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    21. Nenci, Silvia, 2005. "Liberalizzazione tariffaria e crescita degli scambi mondiali: un’analisi storica comparata per la valutazione del sistema commerciale multilaterale
      [Tariff Liberalisation and Trade Growth: a Compar
      ," MPRA Paper 645, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Ocampo José Antonio, 2009. "Hirschman, la industrialización y la teoría del desarrollo," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, February.
    23. Boschini, Anne D., 2006. "The political economy of industrialisation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 887-907, December.
    24. Nenci Silvia & Pietrobelli Carlo, 2008. "Does Tariff Liberalization Promote Trade? Latin American Countries in the Long-Run (1900-2000)," Global Economy Journal, De Gruyter, vol. 8(4), pages 1-30, December.
    25. Aurora Gómez-Galvarriato, 2007. "The Political Economy of Protectionism: The Mexican Textile Industry, 1900-1950," NBER Chapters,in: The Decline of Latin American Economies: Growth, Institutions, and Crises, pages 363-406 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • N7 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services

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