Virginia Tech professor of agricultural and applied economics Everett Peterson was recently named a Global Trade Analysis Project Research Fellow at the 22nd Annual Conference on Global Economic Analysis, held in Warsaw, Poland. 

As one of only four research fellows selected this year, Peterson joins a select group of researchers focused on enhancing the project’s simulation model, which is used to assess the potential impacts of proposed trade policies.

“Given the GTAP database and model’s wide use by economists to assess the potential impacts of policy changes and to inform policymakers of those impacts, it’s an honor to know that my work improving the database and model structure has improved those analyses,” said Peterson, whose involvement with the project has spanned over two decades.

GTAP, as the project is known, is a global network of more than 14,000 researchers and policy makers in over 170 countries who analyze international policy issues. The project’s goal is to create a realistic model that can simulate the possible impacts to a country’s economy in light of specific policy changes, such as threatened tariffs or a proposed climate change policy. Over Peterson’s 20-year tenure with the project, he has worked to help reach that goal by improving the model’s inputs and structure. He developed an approach to parse out food and agricultural data from country’s national economic accounts; extended the base model structure to include transportation, wholesale, and retail activities; and most recently incorporated unemployment into the GTAP model..

Peterson’s improvements have become part of the base model, used as a foundation for further policy research, and his additions have led to insightful findings. Using the model that incorporates unemployment, Peterson found that a 25 percent increase in U.S. tariffs on metal products would lead to a U.S. unemployment rate increase of 0.1 percentage point even though employment of skilled and unskilled labor would increase in the U.S. metals sector.

With plans to retire from full-time work in the department this semester, Peterson will continue this work as a part-time researcher sponsored by the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life SciencesCenter for Agricultural Trade.

“Being selected as a research fellow is a wonderful capstone to my career,” Peterson said. “And I am thankful for the work I have been able to accomplish through GTAP over the last two decades.”

- Written by Jillian Broadwell