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  • Author: Michael D Bordo, Mickey D. Levy
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The ratcheting up of tariffs and the Fed’s discretionary conduct of monetary policy are a toxic mix for economic performance. Escalating tariffs and President Trump’s erratic and unpredictable trade policy and threats are harming global economic performance, distorting monetary policy, and undermining the Fed’s credibility and independence. President Trump’s objectives to force China to open access to its markets for international trade, reduce capital controls, modify unfair treatment of intellectual property, and address cybersecurity issues and other U.S. national security issues are laudable goals with sizable benefits. However, the costs of escalating tariffs are mounting, and the tactic of relying exclusively on barriers to trade and protectionism is misguided and potentially dangerous. The economic costs to the United States so far have been relatively modest, dampening exports, industrial production, and business investment. However, the tariffs and policy uncertainties have had a significantly larger impact on China, accentuating its structural economic slowdown, and are disrupting and distorting global supply chains. This is harming other nations that have significant exposure to international trade and investment overseas, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Germany. As a result, global trade volumes and industrial production are falling. Weaker global growth is reflected in a combination of a reduction in aggregate demand and constraints on aggregate supply.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Economic growth, Tariffs, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, Asia, South Korea, Germany, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Simon Lester, Huan Zhu
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Donald Trump was a trade “hawk” long before he became president. In the late 1980s, he went on the Oprah Winfrey show and complained about Japan “beating the hell out of this country” on trade (Real Clear Politics 2019). As president, he has continued with the same rhetoric, using it against a wide range of U.S. trading partners, and he has followed it up with action (often in the form of tariffs). While many countries have found themselves threatened by Trump’s aggressive trade policy, his main focus has been China. As a result, the United States and China have been engaged in an escalating tariff, trade, and national security conflict since July 2018, when the first set of U.S. tariffs on China went into effect and China retaliated with tariffs of its own. In this article, we explore the U.S.-China economic conflict, from its origins to the trade war as it stands today. We then offer our thoughts on where this conflict is heading and when it might end.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Trade Wars, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jie Bai, Jiahua Liu
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
  • Abstract: It is well known that various forms of non-tariff trade barriers exist within a country. Empirically, it is difficult to measure these barriers as they can take many forms. We take advantage of a nationwide VAT rebate policy reform in China as a natural experiment to identify the existence of these intranational barriers due to local protectionism and study the impact on exports and exporting firms. As a result of shifting tax rebate burden, the reform leads to a greater incentive of the provincial governments to block the domestic flow of non-local goods to local export intermediaries. We develop an open-economy heterogenous firm model that incorporates multiple domestic regions and multiple exporting technologies, including the intermediary sector. Consistent with the model’s predictions, we find that rising local protectionism leads to a reduction in interprovincial trade, more “inward-looking” sourcing behavior of local intermediaries, and a reduction in manufacturing exports. Analysis using micro firm-level data further shows that private companies with greater baseline reliance on export intermediaries are more adversely affected.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Reform, Tariffs
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Craig Kafura
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Over the past 18 months, the United States and China have engaged in a steady escalation of tariffs. Beginning with steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in March 2018, the trade conflict has expanded to cover hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade. Recent rounds of negotiations have made no new progress and have led to both sides escalating further. The most recent US tariffs on Chinese imports went into effect on September 1, covering $112 billion of goods. Beijing has countered with retaliatory tariffs and has halted all agricultural purchases from the United States, a move targeted at already-struggling US farmers. While Americans broadly support engaging in trade with China, they are split along partisan lines on how to engage in that trade. Republicans support raising tariffs on Chinese imports and believe it will help the US economy in the long run, while Democrats oppose doing so and believe it will be harmful.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Tariffs, Trade Wars
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Dan Steinbock
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s ‘America First’ policies come at a critical time in the global economy. These bad policies will have adverse consequences in international trade. In the absence of countervailing forces, they could unsettle the post-2008 global recovery and undermine postwar globalization.
  • Topic: Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Economy, Tariffs
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Emerging challenges to international order require cooperation between the United States and China, two countries that share a common interest in preventing the world from becoming more dangerous and disorderly. U.S.-China relations are becoming more strained and antagonistic, however, and the prospects for cooperation appear to be receding. To explore whether there are still grounds for cooperation on issues of common concern between the two countries, in March 2018 the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) at the Council on Foreign Relations convened a group of fifteen experts from the United States and China for the workshop “Managing Global Disorder: Prospects for U.S.-China Cooperation.” CPA partnered with Peking University’s School of International Studies in Beijing for the workshop and also met with experts at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations in Beijing and the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies in Shanghai. During the workshop, President Donald J. Trump announced plans to impose about $60 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports. While trade was a major topic of discussion, it was by no means the only area discussed. Workshop participants assessed conflicting views of the sources of global disorder and examined areas of global governance such as international trade, development, the environment, and the future of various multilateral institutions. They also discussed the most pressing security challenges in East and Southwest Asia. Participants highlighted the need for a greater understanding between the United States and China on the evolving international order. No major transnational problems will be solved without some cooperation between the two powers. It is therefore imperative that the two countries avoid a further deterioration of the relationship and instead identify areas of potential cooperation.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Social Order
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Kyu Yub Lee
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: Over the last decade, quantifying the welfare effects from tariff changes has become one of the main challenges among international trade economists. There are a number of quantitative trade models with micro-foundations which emphasize demand-side (Anderson and Van Wincoop 2003), supply-side (Eaton and Kortum 2002), Bertrand competition (Bernard et al. 2003), extensive and intensive margin (Chaney 2008), etc, and conclude that trade liberalization with tariff reductions leads an economy to reach a higher level of welfare compared to pre-liberalization (Costinot and Rodriguez-Clare 2014). While elegant, these models inducing gravity equations share the common assumption, a perfect labor market. Quantitative trade models with full-employment developed so far have not taken account of labor market frictions when evaluating the welfare effects from tariff changes. This paper aims to fill the gap in the trade literature by explicitly considering labor market frictions. I employ search-and-matching to a multi-country and multi-sector Ricardian model with input-output linkages, trade in intermediate goods, and sectoral heterogeneity, in order to quantify the welfare effects from tariff changes. The paper shows that labor market frictions can be a source of comparative advantage in the sense that better labor market conditions contribute to lower cost in production. Labor market frictions play a critical role in determining the probability of exporting goods to trading partners, and interact with bilateral trade share, price, expenditures, etc. Unemployment and changes in unemployment rates due to tariff reductions contribute welfare changes across countries, implying that welfare effects based on quantitative trade models with full-employment are likely to be biased. I confirm the biased welfare effects by revisiting Caliendo and Parro (2015), who conduct an analysis of the welfare effects from the NAFTA from 1993 to 2005. I show that the welfare gap between theirs and mine has a positive correlation with changes in observed unemployment rates across countries. With the constructed model, I further conduct counterfactual exercises by asking what would happen if China’s tariffs remain unchanged from 2006 to 2015. It turns out that there are mild welfare effects to trading partners in the world trading system.
  • Topic: Tariffs, Economic Policy, Trade, Unemployment, Welfare
  • Political Geography: China, Asia