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Programme Overview

The fall of the Iron Curtain and liberalisation of China and India has more than doubled the labour force which serves global markets. At the same time, information and communication technologies have exposed goods and services that were not previously traded to the forces of international competition. While these changes may have boosted productivity and aggregate welfare, they have also increased competition in occupations and tasks that were previously insulated from developments elsewhere in the world. These processes of globalisation and technological change therefore present a mix of challenges and opportunities. Nations must continually adapt to find their most advantageous niche, a task embedded within increasingly important international frameworks.

Countries as a whole tend to gain from international trade, but groups within those countries can lose. The identity of these winners and losers changes as new tasks, resources and technology are integrated with world markets. Existing asymmetries of ownership, skills and privileges present in all societies also shape future policies, as groups form to channelize globalisation forces toward their own interests. While globalisation can stir up antagonism both within and across countries, it can also provide new options and opportunities to firms and workers. Research of the Trade programme helps identify and analyze these complex processes.

The programme highlights these and other issues through a series of tightly focused research projects. This involves both inter-disciplinary and international collaboration encompassing economists, geographers and historians. Internationally, the programme has extensive institutional links with other European and North American academics. Recent work carried out by CEP trade researchers has been published in numerous prestigious academic journals, including the American Economic Review, Econometrica, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of International Economics and Review of Economics and Statistics.

The programme concentrates in four main areas of research:

  • The Effects of Globalisation on Firms: This area considers the varied responses of firms to reduced trading costs and the rapidly changing economic environment

  • The Impacts of Globalisation on Workers: This area considers the consequences of globalisation for inequality, unemployment, and changes in living standards

  • Trade Policy: This area examines why governments make the policy choices they do, and studies the specfic cross country impacts of these policies

  • New Economic Geography: This area considers the spatial dimension of globalisation in such issues as the emergence of cities and the clustering of economic activity.