We show that the US in-bond system of imports may be used by firms to illegally avoid trade barriers, a practice known as in-bond diversion.� Digging into official Chinese and Mexican trade statistics, we uncover traces of US quota-hopping in-bond diversion by Chinese exports of textiles and apparel.� This is because the illicit scheme involves declaring Chinese exports bound for Mexico but diverting them to the US market while in transit, thus creating a gap between Chinese and Mexican reports.� Using the phaseout and removal of US quotas at the end of the Multifibre Agreement as a policy experiment, as well as variation in quota bindingness across products, we show that quota-bound products were associated with larger trade gaps which shrunk following the quota removals.� We also find that quotas were associated with larger shares of US imports aimed for transit warehouses, confirming the use of the in-bond system for illegal quota hopping.
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