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Whatever happened to trade wars?

Sunday, 30th October 2017

"In meetings with a wide array of investors, a common thread is concern over geopolitical risks and, specifically, the prospect of escalating trade tensions between the US and its trade partners. What would a trade war look like? Are the necessary ingredients for one to occur in place? And what is the upshot? On one hand, as a trade economist (and, full disclosure, a Canadian), these questions strike close to home. However, from the perspective of the long history of postwar international trade and the even longer history of globalisation, the possibility of a trade war has actually grown increasingly remote. For starters, broad tariff escalations — pretty much anywhere in the world — are quite rare. Rather, changes in applied tariffs in recent decades have been generally small, episodic and narrow across products and trading partners. In UN data covering 5.5m product- and country-specific annual tariff changes since 1995, more than 50 per cent were close to zero and fewer than 2.5 per cent were higher than 10 percentage points."

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Language: English
Contact: Benjamin Mandel

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