Economics 214

Research Project


This Research Project requires you to apply the economic theories we have studied to a real world problem in international trade. If the theories are of any practical value, they should help us to evaluate calls for trade protection.


You will select a specific commodity that recently has been part of a trade dispute brought to the attention of the U.S. International Trade Commission [ITC] . Your task will be to describe the dispute, present an economic analysis of the situation, and make recommendations on how the industry and agency should proceed. In most instances the dispute will have been resolved and the ITC already will have made a decision. You should evaluate this decision.

To complete the assignment you are expected to work in a group. Groups may consist of either two or three students.

Getting Started:

Groups should begin their work by examining the list of recent trade disputes investigated by the ITC referenced in this web site. Reports on these disputes may be available in hardcopy at Clapp Library.

You should select a recent dispute, from the past 1-3 years, for which there is both sufficient information and interesting trade issues to warrant a detailed study. Do not select a commodity for which there is only a Preliminary and not a Final Report. Consider selecting a commodity that is not familiar to you (e.g., ferrovanadium) or that may sound boring (e.g., steel concrete reinforcing bar). Often these commodities raise fascinating economic issues.

To minimize competition over materials, each group must work on its own commodity. Two groups should not both work, for example, on the U.S. versus Korea dispute over large power transformers.

Writing Your Report:

Your report should combine an economic analysis of the trade dispute with a narration of the dispute. Each Report should include the following components, although they need not be in this particular order:

Nature of the trade problem. Explain why the case has been brought to the ITC and what remedy is being sought. Explain any pertinent legal issues, that is, what part of International or U.S. Trade Law appears relevant to the case.

Economic Analysis. Provide an economic analysis of the various positions in this trade dispute. You should incorporate material from the course in making your arguments. Think about how you will write this paper differently than you would have before taking Econ 214! In some instances the basic economic issues in your dispute may lie beyond what we covered in class. The assumptions we have employed in class may be violated, for example, because the domestic industrial structure may be a monopoly rather than perfect competition, or the domestic economy may be a large rather than a small open economy. In these cases try to extend the analysis by incorporating the dimensions of the situation particular to the case you are examining. Your textbook may provide such extensions.

Recommendations. Review the options available to the ITC and to the industry. Present your recommendations on how to resolve the trade dispute.

Title Page. Your Report should begin with a Title Page containing your Report's title, names of all group members, date and a one paragraph Abstract of about 100 words describing your main findings.

Bibliography. Containing all references whether from print or electronic sources.

There is no specific page length requirement. Most projects will be around 10-12 pages of text, employing standard margins and fonts (12 point). All Projects are to be well-argued and well-written. Group projects should read as an integrated whole, not as separate pieces of writing stapled together. All work must be carefully proofread. (Please remember that "proofread" is not synonymous with "spell check"!)

Deliverables, Due Dates and Grading:

This Research Project requires you to submit a Proposal, the Paper, an in-class Oral Report, and a Revised Paper. Due dates for each "deliverable" appear on the course syllabus. The Research Project counts for 30% of your final grade with all group members assigned the same grade. The Research Project grade is based on a scale of 100 points where the Proposal counts for up to 10 points, the Paper up to 60 points, and the Revised Paper up to 30 points. A late penalty equal to 10% of the maximum points allotted for each deliverable will be assessed for each day the deliverable is late.

Proposals should include the commodity selected, names of group members, summary of the trade dispute, a description of how you plan to proceed with your research, and a preliminary bibliography of documents and other sources you have identified.