DP16014 Four great Asian trade collapses

Author(s): Alan de Bromhead, Alan Fernihough, Markus Lampe, Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke
Publication Date: April 2021
Date Revised: May 2021
Keyword(s): Interwar economy, protection, Trade collapses
JEL(s): F14, N75
Programme Areas: Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16014

This paper introduces a new dataset of commodity-specific, bilateral import data for four large Asian economies in the interwar period: China, the Dutch East Indies, India, and Japan. It uses these data to describe the interwar trade collapses in the economies concerned. These resembled the post-2008 Great Trade Collapse in some respects but not in others: they occurred along the intensive margin, imports of cars were particularly badly affected, and imports of durable goods fell by more than those of non-durables, except in China and India which were rapidly industrializing. On the other hand the import declines were geographically imbalanced, while prices were more important than quantities in driving the overall collapse.