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Port Efficiency, Maritime Transport Costs and Bilateral Trade

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  • Ximena Clark
  • David Dollar
  • Alejandro Micco

Abstract

Recent literature has emphasized the importance of transport costs and infrastructure in explaining trade, access to markets, and increases in per capita income. For most Latin American countries, transport costs are a greater barrier to U.S. markets than import tariffs. We investigate the determinants of shipping costs to the U.S. with a large database of more than 300,000 observations per year on shipments of products aggregated at six-digit HS level from different ports around the world. Distance volumes and product characteristics matter. In addition, we find that ports efficiency is an important determinant of shipping costs. Improving port efficiency from the 25th to the 75th percentile reduces shipping costs by 12 percent. (Bad ports are equivalent to being 60% farther away from markets for the average country.) Inefficient ports also increase handling costs, which are one of the components of shipping costs. Reductions in country inefficiencies associated to transport costs from the 25th to 75th percentiles imply an increase in bilateral trade of around 25 percent. Finally, we try to explain variations in port efficiency and find that they are linked to excessive regulation, the prevalence of organized crime, and the general condition of the country's infrastructure.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10353.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
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Publication status: published as Clark, Ximena, David Dollar and Alejandro Micco. "Port Efficiency, Maritime Transport Costs, And Bilateral Trade," Journal of Development Economics, 2004, v75(2,Dec), 417-450.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10353

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  1. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1994. "Evidence on Growth, Increasing Returns and the Extent of the Market," NBER Working Papers 4714, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Aghion, P. & Howitt, P., 1989. "A Model Of Growth Through Creative Destruction," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 8904, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  3. Trujillo, Lourdes & Nombela, Gustavo, 1999. "Privatization and regulation of the seaport industry," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2181, The World Bank.
  4. Fink, Carsten & Mattoo, Aaditya & Neagu, Ileana Cristina, 2001. "Trade in international maritime services : how much does policy matter?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2522, The World Bank.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1992. "A Model of Growth Through Creative Destruction," Scholarly Articles 12490578, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Reuven Glick & Andrew K. Rose, 2001. "Does a currency union affect trade? the time series evidence," Working Paper Series 2001-13, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  7. Amjadi, Azita & Yeats, Alexander J., 1995. "Have transport costs contributed to the relative decline of sub-Saharan African exports? Some preliminary empirical evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1559, The World Bank.
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