Understanding the Supply of N95 Respirators as a result of China’s Trade Policy During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Courtesy: The New York Times

This paper seeks to compare three periods of N95 respirator supply before, during, and after China’s state policy of requisitioning all N95 respirators between January and February of 2020. China manufactures a large majority of the United States supply of N95 respirators. Did this policy decision by China impact the imports of N95 respirators into the United States? By analyzing maritime import records from 2015 to 2021 using Differences in differences analysis we can compare trade activity between China (treatment group) and the World (control group) during the policy period. 2015 to 2021 was selected because it allowed for enough time before the pandemic; 2021 was the last period that data was available. The results indicated that the requisitioning of N95 respirators for use in China did not have an impact on the importation into the United States.

This research is supported by a generous grant from The Guest Family Fund for Excellence in Economics. This paper would not have been possible without the support and guidance of Daniel Nikolic and the UNC Economics Department. Daniel was an invaluable resource to bounce ideas and questions off of and I wish him well with his doctoral studies.

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