How does trade policy treat intermediate inputs relative to other imported products? Slow economic and trade growth during the recovery from the Great Recession, as well as recent political developments in the United Kingdom and the United States, pose a threat to cross-border supply chains and have thus brought this question to the forefront of policy circles. By examining new and detailed data on the Group of 20 (G-20) countries, this paper investigates trade policy use through 2016, with special emphasis on changes in policymaking behavior since 2010. First, there is no evidence that the G-20 economies made significant changes to their applied import tariffs during this period. However, there has been a modest increase in import protection arising through other policy instruments such as the temporary trade barriers (TTBs) of antidumping, countervailing duties, and safeguards. More importantly, there is evidence of changes in how countries have applied their TTBs. TTBs were increasingly imposed on imports not only from China but also from other countries, reversing a post-2001 trend. Furthermore, TTB protection has moved away from imports of final goods and toward imports of intermediate inputs. These shifts in policy have several potential contributing causes as well as economic consequences, including for cross-border supply chains.
The data underlying this analaysis are available here.