The Last Free Traders? Interwar Trade Policy in the Netherlands and Netherlands East Indies

Pim de Zwart, Markus Lampe, Kevin Hjortshøj O´Rourke

Publication: Working/Discussion PaperWorking Paper/Preprint


There has still been too little detailed work on the protectionism that emerged in the wake of the Great Depression. In this paper we explore the experiences of two countries that have been largely neglected in the literature, the Netherlands and Netherlands East Indies (NEI). How did these traditionally free-trading economies respond to the Depression? We construct a detailed product-level database of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade based on primary sources. While ad valorem tariff increases in the Netherlands were largely due to deflation, the country protected agriculture and textiles in a number of ways. The NEI quota system was largely geared to protecting Dutch exporters, but the reverse was not true: Dutch trade policies benefited the metropole more than its largest colony.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2022

Publication series

SeriesCEPR Discussion Paper

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502003 Foreign trade
  • 502049 Economic history
  • 601005 European history

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