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Closed Jaguar, Open Dragon: Comparing Tariffs in Latin America and Asia before World War II

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  • Michael A. Clemens
  • Jeffrey G. Williamson

Abstract

Despite an enormous literature that has analyzed the comparative experiences of Latin America and Asia in post-World War II trade policy, almost no attention has been paid to the comparative experience prior to the wars. Even a cursory look at the best available empirical evidence reveals tremendous contrasts between the two regions. Latin America had the highest tariff barriers on earth before 1914; Asia had the lowest. Protected Latin America's belle ‚poque also boasted some of the most explosive growth performance on earth, while Asia registered some of the worst. What brought the two regions to the opposite ends of the tariff policy spectrum? And why are these quantum differences in economic performance so at odds with postwar conventional wisdom? We begin by describing a novel tariff database we have constructed from largely original sources. We explore the impact of colonial rule and unequal treaties' on Asian tariffs, as well as the impact of geography and political economy on Latin American tariffs. Limits to tariff policy autonomy explain one third of the vast difference between the two regions' tariffs before 1914; differences in the extent and structure of internal markets as well as the world tariff environment explain much of the rest. We conclude with an agenda for the future.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9401
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anderson, James E & Neary, J Peter, 1994. "Measuring the Restrictiveness of Trade Policy," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 8(2), pages 151-169, May.
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    4. Peter H. Lindert & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2003. "Does Globalization Make the World More Unequal?," NBER Chapters,in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 227-276 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    7. Brandt Loren, 1993. "Interwar Japanese Agriculture: Revisionist Views on the Impact of the Colonial Rice Policy and the Labor-Surplus Hypothesis," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 259-293, July.
    8. O'Rourke, Kevin H. & Williamson, Jeffrey G., 2002. "After Columbus: Explaining Europe'S Overseas Trade Boom, 1500 1800," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 62(02), pages 417-456, June.
    9. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Process of Global Integration," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(1, 25th A), pages 1-118.
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    11. Yasuba, Yasukichi, 1996. "Did Japan Ever Suffer From a Shortage of Natural Resources Before World War II?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(03), pages 543-560, September.
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    13. Kevin H. O'Rourke & Jeffrey G. Williamson, 2001. "Globalization and History: The Evolution of a Nineteenth-Century Atlantic Economy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650592, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian & Alvaro Riascos & James A. Schmitz, 2006. "Latin America in the rearview mirror," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Sep.
    2. 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.
    3. repec:spr:laecrv:v:27:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s40503-017-0050-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Yilmaz Akyüz, 2005. "The WTO Negotiations on Industrial Tariffs : What is at Stake for Developing Countries?," Trade Working Papers 22080, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    5. William N. Goetzmann & Andrey D. Ukhov & Ning Zhu, 2007. "China and the world financial markets 1870-1939: Modern lessons from historical globalization -super-1," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 60(2), pages 267-312, May.
    6. 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.
    7. Leonardo Villar & Pilar Esguerra, 2005. "El Comercio Exterior Colombiano En El Siglo Xx," BORRADORES DE ECONOMIA 002468, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA.
    8. Peter H. Bent, 2018. "Recovery from Financial Crises in Peripheral Economies, 1870-1913," CEH Discussion Papers 07, Centre for Economic History, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
    9. Leonardo Villar & Pilar Esguerra, 2005. "Comercio Exterior Colombiano En El Siglo Xx," Borradores de Economia 358, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    10. Tasso Adamopoulos, 2008. "Land Inequality and the Transition to Modern Growth," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 11(2), pages 257-282, April.

    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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