Shanghai's Trade, China's Growth: Continuity, Recovery, and Change Since the Opium War
University of Colorado; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Boston College - Department of Economics
Carol Hua Shiue
University of Colorado-Boulder
CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP8808
In this paper, we provide aggregate trends in China's trade performance from the 1840s to the present. Based on historical benchmarks, we argue that China's recent gains are not exclusively due to the reforms since 1978. Rather, foreign economic activity can be understood by developments that were set in motion in the 19th century. We turn our focus to Shanghai, currently the worlds largest port. Shanghai began direct trade relations with western nations starting in 1843. By 1853, Shanghai already accounted for more than half of China's foreign trade. In tracking the levels and growth rates of the citys net and gross imports and exports, foreign direct investment, and foreign residents over more than a century, we find that Shanghai s level of bilateral trade today with the United States, the United Kingdom, or Japan, for example, are by no means high given Shanghais 19th century experience. This paper argues that a regional approach that embeds national trading destinations within an international trading system provides a meaningful approach to understanding the history of China's trade.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 78
Keywords: colonialism, foreign direct investment, institutions, international migration, re-exports, treaty port
JEL Classification: F10, F22, F23, N65, N70, N95working papers series
Date posted: March 1, 2012
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