China's Foreign Trade and Investment, 1800 - 1950

50 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2020 Last revised: 3 Aug 2020

See all articles by Wolfgang Keller

Wolfgang Keller

University of Colorado; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Carol H. Shiue

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: July 2020

Abstract

The First Opium War (1840-42) was a watershed in the history of China. In its aftermath Britain and other countries forced open new ports to foreign trade through international treaties. Chinese institutions of trade were abolished and re-organized under Western management, Western legal institutions were introduced in China in form of courts and legal practices, and foreigners in China were tried according to the laws of their country of origin (extraterritoriality). To better understand the implications of these changes during the Treaty Port Era (1842-1943), we begin by discussing the attitudes towards foreign trade before 1840 for both China and the West. Drawing on information from the foreign-led Chinese Maritime Customs organization, we provide a synopsis of China’s foreign trade and investment both in terms of patterns and volumes. The paper highlights the link between foreign and domestic trade as well as the important role of new, previously not traded goods for welfare. Employing several outcome measures, we show that Western influence generated significant benefits to China’s economy, and the results suggest that the geographic scope of these benefits reached into areas far beyond the treaty ports.

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Suggested Citation

Keller, Wolfgang and Shiue, Carol Hua, China's Foreign Trade and Investment, 1800 - 1950 (July 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w27558, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3658854

Wolfgang Keller (Contact Author)

University of Colorado ( email )

Department of Economics
PO Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Carol Hua Shiue

University of Colorado at Boulder - Department of Economics ( email )

Campus Box 256
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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