Proposal preview

Classifying the merchandises of the waves of globalisation (17th-20th century)

Research in international trade has moved to phenomena on the sector, product, firm or even plant level. We need high quality historical micro data to explore these things. That makes the harmonized identification and classification of commodities crucial. Without a classification consensus, it is impossible to answer questions on topics such as vertical quality specialization, diversification, trade in value-added, revealed comparative advantage, the gains from trade or intra-industry trade.

We want to achieve a minimum consensus among all the historical research teams on how to build a sound, question-compatible classification of products and sectors. This would ensure the construction of historical and long-term trade datasets at the product level, comparable across and countries. The suggested two 90-minute sessions would be a major step into that direction.

Organizer(s)

  • Loïc Charles Université Paris-8 loic.charles@ined.fr France
  • Guillaume Daudin Université Paris-Dauphine guillaume.daudin@dauphine.fr France
  • Ana Carreras Marin University of Barcelona annacarrerasmarin@ub.edu Spain
  • Wolf-Fabian Hungerland Humboldt-universität zu berlin w.f.hungerland@googlemail.com Portugal

Session members

  • Aidan Kane, NUI Galway
  • Cristina Moreira, Universidade do Minho
  • Gordon Holmes, Mongolia International University
  • Jacopo Timini, Banco de España
  • Torsten Arnold, European University Viadrina
  • Paul Girard, SciencesPo

Discussant(s)

Papers

Panel abstract

Research in international trade has moved to the study of phenomena at the sector, product, firm or even plant level. We need high quality historical micro data to explore these. That makes the harmonized identification and classification of commodities crucial. Without a classification consensus, it is impossible to answer questions on topics such as vertical quality specialization, diversification, trade in value-added, revealed comparative advantage, the gains from trade or intra-industry trade. We want to achieve a minimum consensus among all historical researchers on how to build a sound, question-compatible classification of products and sectors. This would ensure the construction of historical and long-term trade datasets at the product level, comparable across countries. The aim of the session is to share practices on these issues.

1st half

The treatment of merchandises in the toflit18 datascape (abstract)

Loïc Charles, Guillaume Daudin, Paul Girard

The French «Bureau de la Balance du Commerce» 18th century data include more than 51,000 different merchandises mentioned in the 18th century sources (for 420,000 trade flows). Correcting for mistakes made by the original scribes and the person in charge of the transcription brings that number down to 24,500. Further identifying synonyms brings it down to 18,000. It is however necessary to devise some sort of aggregation process to be able to use the data collected to answer a wider set of economic history issues. This paper presents the technical solutions we found and their application to the question of the effect of the loss of Canada, the futility of mercantilist wars, medical drug trade, grain trade and the effect of the Franco-British Eden trade treaty.

The French «Bureau de la Balance du Commerce» 18th century data include more than 51,000 different merchandises mentioned in the 18th century sources (for 420,000 trade flows). Correcting for mistakes made by the original scribes and the person in charge of the transcription brings that number down to 24,500. Further identifying synonyms brings it down to 18,000. It is however necessary to devise some sort of aggregation process to be able to use the data collected to answer a wider set of economic history issues. This paper presents the technical solutions we found and their application to the question of the effect of the loss of Canada, the futility of mercantilist wars, medical drug trade, grain trade and the effect of the Franco-British Eden trade treaty.

The debate on the methodology for crossing merchandises in the trade: Portuguese and Hamburg case

Maria Cristina Moreira, Klaus Weber, Torsten dos Santos Arnold

This paper aims to contribute to the debate on a standardizing and classifying of merchandise in global commodity flows (1750-1810). It focuses on methodological aspects related to the aggregation and comparison of commodity flows. For this purpose, the results of a case study on the trade between Portugal and Hamburg will be presented in terms of typology of goods, measurement units, prices and values of identical products traded on both markets, including an analysis of shipping costs and trading networks. The main sources are the annual Portuguese trade balances and the Hamburg admiralty customs records. Detailed records of a Lisbon merchant, preserved in the Portuguese National Archives, will also be used.

This paper aims to contribute to the debate on a standardizing and classifying of merchandise in global commodity flows (1750-1810). It focuses on methodological aspects related to the aggregation and comparison of commodity flows. For this purpose, the results of a case study on the trade between Portugal and Hamburg will be presented in terms of typology of goods, measurement units, prices and values of identical products traded on both markets, including an analysis of shipping costs and trading networks. The main sources are the annual Portuguese trade balances and the Hamburg admiralty customs records. Detailed records of a Lisbon merchant, preserved in the Portuguese National Archives, will also be used.

Holmes Classifications for Production and Trade Flows A new Proposal and its application for the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, 1768 to 1960

Gordon Holmes

The literature on the history of the global economy has ballooned since the 1980s. However, the statistical evidence used to support many of the claims and conclusions of authors has lagged far behind. This section of the World Economic History Conference seeks to remedy this problem. My contribution will be to use old classification systems and new databases in presenting a profile of international trade flows of the USA and UK. My research paper is organized into six parts. The first looks at the science of taxonomy which is an academic subject that creates the nomenclature, identification and classification of a discipline. The second part, the Historical Evolution of International Trade Classifications, looks at the many effort and treaties to develop universal classification for trade goods in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Next, I examine the concept of Economy of Nature by Carl Linnaeus in the eighteen century. The natural...

The literature on the history of the global economy has ballooned since the 1980s. However, the statistical evidence used to support many of the claims and conclusions of authors has lagged far behind. This section of the World Economic History Conference seeks to remedy this problem. My contribution will be to use old classification systems and new databases in presenting a profile of international trade flows of the USA and UK. My research paper is organized into six parts. The first looks at the science of taxonomy which is an academic subject that creates the nomenclature, identification and classification of a discipline. The second part, the Historical Evolution of International Trade Classifications, looks at the many effort and treaties to develop universal classification for trade goods in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Next, I examine the concept of Economy of Nature by Carl Linnaeus in the eighteen century. The natural environment had an enormous impact on human societies in the seventh and eighteen century. This continues today despite the growth of industrial activity which has created a second nature. This interaction is an enduring and pervasive relationship, and critical to understanding the character of the economic life of all communities. It informed the first generation of classifications system for North American exports examined in part four and the second generation in part five. In the latter, I examine American Trade Flows by Nature of Product from 1768 to 1960. I created a unique database from the pre-Revolutionary War to 1910 and link this to the official figures of the U.S. government from 1910 to 1960. The last section of the research paper presents a summary of British trades flows by Nature of Product and geographical region from 1699 to 1856. Official trade statistics are available for a longer period of time and will be the basis of a future paper.

2nd half

Market entry and sector spillovers Italian exports from unification to WWI 1861-1913

Jacopo Timini

Between its Unification and WWI, Italy faced a period of increasing participation in the international economy. The growth of Italian exports was gradual, and alternately promoted by its intensive and extensive margins. In this paper, using a disaggregated database at country-product level, I first construct the intensive and extensive margins of trade (for Italian imports and exports) and, second, within a quasi-gravity model framework, I estimate the drivers of market entry for Italian exports (1862-1913), with particular attention to the presence of eventual sector spillover effects. I find that the presence of “similar” exported products increased the probability of entry in the destination market (export spillovers), even if with diminishing marginal effects, potentially linked to a “saturation”/“congestion” of the market. Equally, I find that the higher the imports’ growth rate for a specific product, the more likely it was to be internationalised by Italian exporters (import spillovers).

Between its Unification and WWI, Italy faced a period of increasing participation in the international economy. The growth of Italian exports was gradual, and alternately promoted by its intensive and extensive margins. In this paper, using a disaggregated database at country-product level, I first construct the intensive and extensive margins of trade (for Italian imports and exports) and, second, within a quasi-gravity model framework, I estimate the drivers of market entry for Italian exports (1862-1913), with particular attention to the presence of eventual sector spillover effects. I find that the presence of “similar” exported products increased the probability of entry in the destination market (export spillovers), even if with diminishing marginal effects, potentially linked to a “saturation”/“congestion” of the market. Equally, I find that the higher the imports’ growth rate for a specific product, the more likely it was to be internationalised by Italian exporters (import spillovers).

What is a product anyway ? Exploring the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) through an application to the First Globalisation, with best-practice guidelines

Wolf-Fabian Hungerland, Christoph Altmeppen

We study the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC). This is important because a growing number of studies’ relies on ever more disaggregated trade data, but the set-up of these studies’ unit of analysis—bins of goods categories arranged in certain hierarchies—is rarely studied. It is often unclear what a product or a variety really is. Moreover, increasingly granular trade data from before the 1950s are being lifted from the archives requiring standardisation. The SITC provides a framework for that. This paper makes four contributions: First, we explore the SITC critically, work out specificities of each revision, analyse how revisions are related, and provide improved correspondence tables between all revisions. We show that revision choice can have important implications. Second, we scrutinise the content of product categories, and discuss some implications for analysing unit values. Third, we propose basic rules for translating historical, unstandardised trade statistics to the SITC. We also present...

We study the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC). This is important because a growing number of studies’ relies on ever more disaggregated trade data, but the set-up of these studies’ unit of analysis—bins of goods categories arranged in certain hierarchies—is rarely studied. It is often unclear what a product or a variety really is. Moreover, increasingly granular trade data from before the 1950s are being lifted from the archives requiring standardisation. The SITC provides a framework for that. This paper makes four contributions: First, we explore the SITC critically, work out specificities of each revision, analyse how revisions are related, and provide improved correspondence tables between all revisions. We show that revision choice can have important implications. Second, we scrutinise the content of product categories, and discuss some implications for analysing unit values. Third, we propose basic rules for translating historical, unstandardised trade statistics to the SITC. We also present ways to quantitatively assess such translation exercises. Fourth, we translate German product-level trade data from the first globalisation to both SITC revisions 2 and 4. We find revision 2 more applicable to unstandardised historical data. We argue that despite inevitable imperfections, applying the SITC yields useful results, even on a very disaggregated level.

Standardization of Latin American official trade statistics. Sources and methodology for a study on the diversification of the export baskets

Marc Badía-Miró, Anna Carreras-Marín, Agustina Rayes

The study of the Latin American region during the export-led-growth model has been a topic widely discussed by historians. However, much of the discussion about trade concentration or diversification has focused on few main products or main destinations in each country. This approach has prevented detailed knowledge of the pattern of exported goods, i.e. the relative share of each of the partners by item. Additionally, this approach has hampered the analysis of potential trade in its extensive terms. In this article we work with the official foreign trade statistics of a sample of seven Latin American countries (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Costa Rica) around 1912 in order to analyse the degree of diversification both by product and by destiny. For comparison reasons, we standardized the items of each country following the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC).

The study of the Latin American region during the export-led-growth model has been a topic widely discussed by historians. However, much of the discussion about trade concentration or diversification has focused on few main products or main destinations in each country. This approach has prevented detailed knowledge of the pattern of exported goods, i.e. the relative share of each of the partners by item. Additionally, this approach has hampered the analysis of potential trade in its extensive terms. In this article we work with the official foreign trade statistics of a sample of seven Latin American countries (Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Costa Rica) around 1912 in order to analyse the degree of diversification both by product and by destiny. For comparison reasons, we standardized the items of each country following the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC).