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The persistence of trade policy beyond import tariffs

July 9, 2019

With the well-publicised recent hikes in US import tariffs, and the imposition of retaliatory tariffs by its trade partners, it appears that trade policy is back.  But did it ever really go away?
There is strong evidence that it did not.  Although multilateral trade agreements had pushed countries’ import tariffs to ever lower levels over the last several decades, governments had been imposing other constraints on imports even before the most recent trade wars.  A prominent example is provided by temporary import barriers such as antidumping and countervailing duties.  According to Vandenbussche and Zanardi (2010), the number of countries with antidumping laws rose steeply in the second half of the 20th century, and for intensive users of antidumping duties, such as India and

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