On the Design of Effective Sanctions: The Case of Bans on Exports to Russia


We analyze the effects of bans on exports at the level of 5,000 products and show how our results can inform economic sanctions against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. We begin with characterizing export restrictions imposed by the EU and the US until mid May 2022. We then propose a theoretically-grounded criterion for targeting export bans at the 6-digit HS level. Our results show that the cost to Russia are highly convex in the market share of the sanctioning parties, i.e., there are large benefits from coordinating export bans among a broad coalition of countries. Applying our results to Russia, we find that sanctions imposed by the EU and the US are not systematically related to our arguments once we condition on Russia’s total imports of a product from participating countries. Quantitative evaluations of the export bans show (i) that they are very effective with the welfare loss typically ∼100 times larger for Russia than for the sanctioners. (ii) Improved coordination of the sanctions and targeting sanctions based on our criterion allows to increase the costs to Russia by about 60% with little to no extra cost to the sanctioners. (iii) There is scope for increasing the cost to Russia further by expanding the set of sanctioned products.

CID Faculty Working Paper Series: 417
Keywords: Export Ban, Input-Output Linkages, Quantitative Trade Model, Russia, Sanctions, Ukraine
JEL Classifications: F13, F51
Last updated on 10/28/2022