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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

The Effect of Technical Standards on Trade-Flows: Why is Japan different?

November 19, 2001

Johannes Moenius, Northwestern University / University of Tokyo

Does Japan use technical standards to protect its industries from imports? This question has taken center stage in the trade-policy debate especially in the US for years. To answer this question, it is necessary to first analyze how technical standards influence trade flows in general. We provide evidence that product and process-standards are not always “bad” for trade, even if they differ across countries. We will demonstrate under which conditions standards improve trade-flows. We will then compare the evidence for Japan with that of other countries – do Japanese standards really hinder imports? And is that different from other countries? The answers to both questions are: yes, with some qualifications. We will show preliminary evidence for why this may be the case. However, the observed trade-barrier effect of Japanese standards may only be a side-effect that occurs unintentionally.

Johannes Moenius was born in Germany in 1964. Studying Management Science and Economics in Germany, Canada and the US, he received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, San Diego. Currently he is an Assistant Professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a Visiting Scholar at the CIRJE at the University of Tokyo.
Professor Moenius teaches International Business Strategy at Kellogg. His research focuses on non-tariff barriers to trade, and the dynamics of comparative advantage. Regionally, his focus is on Japan and SE-Asia. He has conducted field research in Germany, the US, Japan and the Philippines.