Proposal preview

Trade Policy and Diverse Paths of Globalization: Tariffs, Market Integration, and Political Economy in Europe, America, and Asia, 1870-1939

Building on growing bodies of scholarship—ranging from cliometrics based on the “new-new trade theory” to international political economy—this session includes studies on the drivers of global market integration and disintegration, and the relationships between international trade and tariffs, political interest groups, transportation, economic ideas, and diplomacy, in Europe, North and South America, and East and Southeast Asia from the late nineteenth century to the interwar period. Collectively, we aim to deepen our understanding of how tariffs and other trade costs acted at the international level, and how trade policy was discussed, planned, and implemented in different countries and colonies. By adopting both cliometric and qualitative approaches, these papers aim to clarify the various responses to waves of globalization in different areas of the world, each of which was in different political-economic contexts but all of which had to adapt to globalizing markets.

In so doing, these papers ask two types of questions. On the one hand, cliometricians ask through what kind of mechanisms trade policies affected the shaping or dissolving of the global economy. How were trade volume and economic growth determined by tariffs, transportation fares, and other costs, as well as colonial, linguistic, and other socio-political variables? Was the decision-making on tariff rates influenced by political interest groups or by diplomatic treaty negotiations? On the other hand, transnational historians ask how and what kind of trade policies were implemented through domestic and diplomatic processes in different areas of the world. How did various economic integration movements affect policy making? Was there any academic communication among economists in the three regions regarding commercial policy at that time? As a whole, we ask how the difference in trade policy and other conditions affected the diverse results of economic globalization.

Our presentations are divided into two panels. Our first panel focuses on the contributions by cliometricians, whose analyses are based on recent developments in trade theory. Using exhaustive data on product-level exports and imports, Wolf-Fabian Hungerland will uncover various features of Germany’s globalization before 1914. Peter Bent, using time series analysis, studies the connection (or lack thereof) between tariffs and growth in the U.S. from 1875 to 1913. José Alejandro Peres-Cajías will present an estimation of effective protection during the First Globalization for different South American countries. The paper deals with Coatsworth and Williamson’s (2004) idea that high average tariffs in the region reflected in high levels of protection. Marcela Sabaté and José María Serrano will deal with the reconstitution of a pro free-trade organization in Spain as a reaction, quite unique in Europe, to the protectionist backlash inaugurated by the German bill of 1879. Agustina Rayes will study the history of Argentine import tariff between 1880 and 1913 by examining the foreign trade statistics and customs laws. By doing so, she will contribute to the debate about the level of protection in the country during the First Globalization. Our second panel is based on research by historians of economic thought, diplomacy, and political economy, all of which have a transnational perspective. Ryotaro Sugiyama will focus on the relation between the Tariff Reform movement in Britain and the social policy of the British Conservative party in the interwar period. Toshiki Kawashima will examine how the network of commercial treaties in Central Europe before 1914 affected the revision of unequal treaties in Meiji Japan. Fumio Kinefuchi will explore how various interest groups in Austria discussed plans for the economic integration of Central Europe around 1900. Using archival material regarding tariff negotiations, Masao Daeumer will analyze the ways that Japan aimed at securing minimum tariffs for its exports to French Indochina in the period of 1907 to 1932.

The commentators on our panel are economic historians with a long-standing interest in the role of trade policy in globalization. Douglas Irwin, our first commentator, is one of the pioneers in the study of the relationships between trade policy and globalization. Markus Lampe, our second commentator, is known for his study of commercial treaties and international trade. Florian Ploeckl, our third commentator, studies the role of political-economic unification in market integration. Alexander J. Green, our fourth commentator, studies the relationship between the international grain markets and trade policies.


  • Toshiki Kawashima, University of Pennsylvania,, United States
  • Peter H Bent, University of Massachusetts, Amherst,, United States

Session members

  • Wolf-Fabian Hungerland, Humboldt University of Berlin,
  • Thilo Albers, London School of Economics and Political Science,
  • John P Tang, Australian National University,
  • Peter H Bent, University of Massachusetts, Amherst,
  • José Alejandro Peres-Cajías, Universidad Católica Boliviana "San Pablo",
  • Marcela Sabaté, University of Zaragoza,
  • José María Serrano, University of Zaragoza,
  • Agustina Rayes, Universidad Nacional del Centro de la Provincia de Buenos Aires,
  • Ryotaro Sugiyama, The University of Tokyo,
  • Toshiki Kawashima, University of Pennsylvania,
  • Fumio Kinefuchi, Tohoku Gakuin University,
  • Masao Daeumer, Sciences Po Paris,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Douglas A Irwin, Dartmouth College,
  • Markus Lampe, Vienna University of Economics and Business,
  • Florian Ploeckl, The University of Adelaide,
  • Alexander J Green, London School of Economics and Political Science,