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Mariya Brussevich, Mr. Chris Papageorgiou, and Pauline Wibaux
This paper uses granular customs data from France to investigate propagation of the COVID-19 shock along the supply chains in 2020. It quantifies the effect of the COVID-19 shock on trade adjustment and identifies mitigating and amplifying factors contributing to French firms’ heterogeneous adjustment paths. Early in the pandemic, firms mainly responded to global lockdowns and spread of the virus by reducing trade volumes (intensive margin) as opposed to exiting from import and export markets (ex-tensive margin). However, adjustment along the extensive margin played a more important role in trade with developing countries. It is shown that the impact of lockdowns was stronger for final consumer goods and the trade recovery was predominantly demand-driven. More automated, inventory-intensive, older, and medium-sized firms were more insulated from the shock, whereas firms’ reliance on air transportation for shipping goods amplified the shock. Trade bans and promotion measures implemented by governments in response to the pandemic had little impact on aggregate trade flows.
Peter J. Klenow, Sergii Meleshchuk, Martha Denisse Pierola, and Andres Rodriguez-Clare
The Melitz model highlights the importance of the extensive margin (the number of firms exporting) for trade flows. Using the World Bank’s Exporter Dynamics Database (EDD) featuring firm-level exports from 50 countries, we find that around 50 percent of variation in exports is along the extensive margin—a quantitative victory for the Melitz framework. The remaining 50 percent on the intensive margin (exports per exporting firm) contradicts a special case of Melitz with Pareto-distributed firm productivity, which has become a tractable benchmark. This benchmark model predicts that, conditional on the fixed costs of exporting, all variation in exports across trading partners should occur on the extensive margin. We find that moving from a Pareto to a lognormal distribution allows the Melitz model to match the role of the intensive margin in the EDD. We use likelihood methods and the EDD to estimate a generalized Melitz model with a joint lognormal distribution for firm-level productivity, fixed costs and demand shifters, and use “exact hat algebra” to quantify the effects of a decline in trade costs on trade flows and welfare in the estimated model. The welfare effects turn out to be quite close to those in the standard Melitz-Pareto model when we choose the Pareto shape parameter to fit the average trade elasticity implied by our estimated Melitz-lognormal model, although there are significant differences regarding the effects on trade flows.
International Monetary Fund. European Dept.
This Selected Issues paper focuses on long-term impact of Brexit on the European Union (EU). This paper examines consequences of Brexit on the EU27 under various post-Brexit scenarios by using two different complementary approaches. Our results, which are broadly in line with recent findings in the literature, are twofold. First, Brexit would have negative effects on the EU27 as well, given the depth and the complexity of the EU-U.K. integration. Similar to various empirical studies, it has been observed that the estimated long-term output and employment losses (in percent) for the EU27 in the study are on average lower than the corresponding losses for the UK estimated in the literature. The level of output and employment are estimated to fall at most by up to 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent in the long run in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit scenario, respectively. A “soft” Brexit outcome would lead to much lower losses.
International Monetary Fund. African Dept.
This Selected Issues paper on West African Economic and Monetary Union presents external stability assessment report. The current account deficit declined in 2014. Although gross international reserve coverage has increased slightly, part of the current account deficit has been financed by a decline in commercial banks’ net foreign assets. Contingent on the implementation of government’s consolidation plans, and helped by a favorable oil price outlook, the current account deficit would further gradually decline and be matched by enough financial inflows in the medium term. According to various metrics, the real exchange rate appears to be broadly aligned with fundamentals. International reserve coverage should increase to provide stronger buffers against immediate short-term risks. Structural competitiveness and investment efficiency improvements will be essential to ensure that the planned large investment programs translate into growth and export gains as well as increased private inflows into the region.
Paolo Giordani, Nadia Rocha, and Michèle Ruta
This paper studies the relationship between trade policy and food prices. We show that, when individuals are loss averse, governments may use trade policy to shield the domestic economy from large food price shocks. This creates a complementarity between the price of food in international markets and trade policy. Specifically, unilateral actions give rise to a "multiplier effect": when a shock drives up the price of food, exporters respond by imposing restrictions while importers wind down protection, thus exacerbating the initial shock and soliciting further trade policy activism. We test the key prediction of the theory with a new dataset that comprises monthly information on trade measures across 77 countries and 33 food products for the period 2008-11, finding evidence of a multiplier effect in food trade policy. These findings contribute to inform the broader debate on the proper regulation of food trade policy within the multilateral trading system.