OECD Trade Policy Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected trade policy studies prepared for use within the OECD.

NB. No. 1 to No. 139 were released under the previous series title OECD Trade Policy Working Papers.


3D printing and International Trade

What is the evidence to date?

3D printing technologies have attracted the attention of the trade policy community for their potential to disrupt international trade. It is argued that greater cross-border exchange in design files for local printing may lead to less trade in physical goods. New evidence presented in this paper suggests quite the opposite: that the adoption of 3D printing technologies, proxied by measures of imports of 3D printers, appears to be complementary to goods trade. On average, an increase of around USD 14 000 in imports of 3D printers is associated with a USD 3.3 million increase in the value of exports of 3D printable goods. Similar dynamics are found for imports of 3D printable goods. Overall, this implies that the wider adoption of the technology has, at present, limited implications for the ongoing debate on the renewal of the WTO Moratorium on customs duties on electronic transmissions as it is unlikely to result in loss of goods trade and traditional tariff revenue.


Keywords: 3D printable goods, System GMM, Electronic transmissions, WTO Moratorium, Digital trade, Additive manufacturing
JEL: F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade; O33: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights / Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes; F13: International Economics / Trade / Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
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