Trade Spillovers of Domestic Subsidies


Lorenzo Rotunno ; Michele Ruta

Publication Date:

March 1, 2024

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As governments resort to industrial policies to achieve economic and non-economic objectives, the number of subsidies implemented each year has more than tripled in the last decade. Using detailed data across a large number of advanced and emerging economies, we empirically investigate the effects of domestic subsidies on international trade flows. Estimates from a difference-in-difference specification show that on average subsidies promote both exports and imports. These effects are partly driven by selection into subsidies, as governments target export-oriented and import-competing products. The results however mask significant differences across countries. Specifically, exports of subsidized products from G20 emerging markets increase 8 percent more than exports of other products, with no evidence of selection. The gravity estimates confirm that subsidies promote international relative to domestic trade. These spillover effects are concentrated in some industries, such as electrical machinery, and are stronger when subsidies are given through tax breaks than other policy instruments. The subsidy-led rise in trade calls for international cooperation to manage risks of retaliatory actions and possible drifts towards a subsidy war.


Working Paper No. 2024/041





Publication Date:

March 1, 2024



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