East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

East Asia Workshop: 2/6, Robert Gulotty, “Regulatory Protection and the Geography of Trade: Evidence from Chinese Customs Data”


East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society presents


Regulatory Protection and the Geography of Trade: Evidence from Chinese Customs Data”


Robert Gulotty

Assistant Professor of Political Science

University of Chicago


4:30-6:00p.m., Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Pick Lounge, 5828 South University Ave.

*Food will be provided*



To comply with the demands of increasingly regulated markets, firms today must label, package or even rework products to meet the high standards of the destination market.  These technical barriers to trade (TBT) can raise prices and perhaps quality, but firms may also respond by moving out of the market entirely or rerouting their trade through third countries. In the former case, top firms enjoy monopolistic rents.  In the latter case, firms seeking to meet a standard in a country may shift transit trade toward countries with similar regulatory levels as the destination market.   The consequences could be dire for smaller exporters and developing markets that have enjoyed at least some of the rents associated with transit trade. To study these effects, we examine the effects of regulatory protection on the flow of China’s exports between 2000-2007, drawing on a unique dataset that covers the universe of over 130 million customs transactions reported by Chinese firms at the level of the shipment, including price, quantity, and the country of transit prior to arrival at the final market. During this period, China’s exports quadrupled and its trading partners adopted hundreds of regulatory barriers to trade. Joining the customs data with the catalogue of regulatory barriers collected by the World Trade Organization, we examine the consequences of these regulatory barriers for the margins of trade, both across firms and across transit countries, and, for the first time, map the geography of trade for the largest exporter in a world of regulated markets.

About the Speaker

Robert Gulotty is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. His first book project is Governing Trade Beyond Tariffs: The politics of multinational production and its implications for international cooperation. He is also engaged in research on the origins of the international trade regime and the effects of domestic institutions on foreign economic policymaking. This research includes a book project, Opening of the American market: rules, norms and coalitions with Judith Goldstein. Gulotty’s work appears in International Organization, The Oxford Handbook of Historical Institutionalism, and The World Trade Report. He has also completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Stanford Center for International Development and the Department of Political Science.

*To learn more about the workshop, please visit our workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/

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*Questions and concerns can be addressed to the student coordinator Haitong Xu (xuhaitong@uchciago.edu) and Yang Xiang (xiangalan@uchicago.edu)


Faculty sponsors:

Xi Song (Sociology), xisong@uchicago.edu

Dali Yang (Political Science), daliyang@uchicago.edu

Dingxin Zhao (Sociology), dzhao@uchicago.edu


The East Asia Workshop is sponsored by the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance please contact the student coordinator in advance.

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