The Impact of a Trade War: Assessment of the Current Tariffs and Alternative Scenarios

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This note uses Charbonneau and Landry’s (2018) framework to assess the direct impact of the current trade tensions on the Canadian and global economies, as well as possible implications if the conflict escalates further. Overall, my findings show that the estimated impact of current tariffs on real gross domestic product (GDP) remains relatively small, which is in line with the literature on gains from trade, but the impact on trade is much larger. With a modest escalation of trade tensions, monetary policy in Canada could face a situation of rising prices and falling real GDP. This dilemma would be worse if Canada takes an active role in the trade conflict. If trade tensions rise more dramatically, the effect on Canada would depend on Canada’s access to the US market. A significant and more broad-based rise in tariffs could lead to large global impacts.

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