Deliberate Surrender? the Impact of Interwar Indian Protection

Vellore Arthi, Markus Lampe, Ashwin R. Nair, Kevin Hjortshøj O´Rourke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


What is the role of trade policy in promoting intra-Empire trade? We address the question in the context of interwar India, whose trade policies have been accused of harming British export interests. We quantify the impact of trade policy on the value and composition of Indian imports, using novel disaggregated data on both trade policies and imports for 114 commodity categories coming from 42 countries. We find that, even though Indian protection lowered total imports, it substantially boosted imports from the United Kingdom. Despite the rising tariff barriers facing British exporters, trade diversion from other countries ensured that Indian trade policy benefited them overall.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-47
JournalEconomic Journal
Issue number657
Early online date13 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502049 Economic history
  • 502046 Economic policy
  • 506007 International relations
  • 502018 Macroeconomics


  • trade policy
  • empire
  • India
  • interwar

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