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Border effects and the availability of domestic products abroad

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  • Carolyn L. Evans

Abstract

Borders have a sizable negative impact on trade flows. Given the vast number of individual goods potentially traded, this "border effect" could have two possible explanations: (1) less international than domestic trade in the goods that are actually traded between countries ("flow"), or (2) differences between the sets of goods traded internationally and domestically--that is, fewer goods are available as exports than are sold in the home market ("availability"). Most of the previous literature on border effects has ignored the possible role of this second factor, instead reporting a single border effect that contains the embedded assumption that identical sets of goods are available in the domestic and export markets. In contrast to this assumption, evidence on the activities of firms shows that only a fraction of domestic products are actually exported. ; This paper provides theoretical and empirical work that incorporates the distinction between the flow and availability explanations of border effects. A model that includes heterogeneous fixed costs of trade illustrates how either of these two factors could underlie a given border effect. The empirical work incorporates the fact that not all firms export by examining only the fraction of total domestic production attributable to those firms that actually do sell abroad. The results suggest that a portion of the border effect is indeed due to differences between the sets of goods available domestically and internationally. I find that, on average across industries, about one-half of the border effect is due to the flow explanation, while the remaining half may be attributed to availability. Given that the policy and welfare implications of border effects depend on the relative importance of these two explanations, future work should take care to specify clearly which aspect of the border effect is being measured.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of New York in its series Staff Reports with number 127.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fednsr:127

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Keywords: Exports ; International trade ; International economic integration;

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References

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  1. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 1999. "Exporting and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 7135, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Intra-National versus International Trade: How Stubborn are Nations in Global Integration?," NBER Working Papers 5531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Alan Deardorff, 1998. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade: Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," NBER Chapters, in: The Regionalization of the World Economy, pages 7-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Robert C. Feenstra, 1992. "How Costly Is Protectionism?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-178, Summer.
  5. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2004. "Why Some Firms Export," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 561-569, May.
  6. John F. Helliwell, 1997. "National Borders, Trade and Migration," NBER Working Papers 6027, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Romer, Paul, 1994. "New goods, old theory, and the welfare costs of trade restrictions," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 5-38, February.
  8. Harrigan, James, 1996. "Openness to trade in manufactures in the OECD," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1-2), pages 23-39, February.
  9. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
  10. Carolyn L. Evans, 2003. "The Economic Significance of National Border Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1291-1312, September.
  11. John F. Helliwell & Geneviève Verdier, 2001. "Measuring internal trade distances: a new method applied to estimate provincial border effects in Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 1024-1041, November.
  12. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  13. Volker Nitsch, 2000. "National borders and international trade: evidence from the European Union," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1091-1105, November.
  14. Russell H. Hillberry, 2002. "Aggregation bias, compositional change, and the border effect," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(3), pages 517-530, August.
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