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Potential climate-induced impacts on trade: the case of agricultural commodities and maritime chokepoints

This study assesses the potential macro-economic effects of climate change affecting operations in three maritime chokepoints, i.e., the Panama Canal, the Suez Canal, and the Turkish Straits.

Journal Article

Published on 23 April 2024

The analysis focuses on agricultural commodities. It couples a “logistics” model of maritime trade flows with a Computable General Equilibrium model considering three modelling alternatives: (1) increase of “iceberg trade costs”, (2) shadow import tariffs, and (3) shadow export tariffs. Methodologically, we found a comforting qualitative agreement across methodologies in predicting the direction of changes in the main economic variables under scrutiny. However, negative GDP performances are more frequent and larger using the first method that also tends to predict lower import contractions than the other two methods. The impact assessment, examining storylines of climate-change-induced events delaying chokepoints operations, highlights that climate change impacts on chokepoints’ operations can convey detectable effects on production and prices of agricultural commodities associated with negative GDP impacts worldwide. In addition, although trade re-composition generates winners and losers, total losses tend to prevail. The combined GDP losses of the three chokepoints can reach $34 billion (2014 prices) in 2030. It shows that weather events in remote locations, such as the Panama Canal, can have cascading effects on the EU, with potential losses of USD 2 billion $ in GDP. North Africa, Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa are particularly vulnerable. They suffer from a drop in imports of agricultural commodities and GDP losses in all the three cases. This impact assessment emphasizes another mechanism at play that could increase the asymmetry and the adverse distributional impacts of climate change on agriculture.

Topics: Trade