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Distorted Trade Barriers: A Dissection of Trade Costs in a “Distorted Gravity” Model

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  • Tibor Besedeš
  • Matthew T. Cole

Abstract

It is quite common in the trade literature to use iceberg transport costs to represent variable trade barriers, both tariffs and shipping costs alike. However, in models with monopolistic competition these are, in fact, not identical trade restrictions. This difference is not driven by tariff revenue but by how the two trade costs affect firm profits and the extensive margin. We illustrate these differences in a gravity model `a la Chaney (2008). We show theoretically that trade flows are more elastic with respect to ad valorem tariffs than transport costs and find a linear relationship between the elasticities with respect to ad valorem tariffs, iceberg transport costs, and fixed market costs. We empirically validate these results using data on U.S. product-level imports.
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  • Tibor Besedeš & Matthew T. Cole, 2017. "Distorted Trade Barriers: A Dissection of Trade Costs in a “Distorted Gravity” Model," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(1), pages 148-164, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:reviec:v:25:y:2017:i:1:p:148-164
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/roie.12260
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-1721, September.
    2. Matthew Cole, 2011. "Not all trade restrictions are created equally," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 147(3), pages 411-427, September.
    3. Demidova, Svetlana & Rodríguez-Clare, Andrés, 2009. "Trade policy under firm-level heterogeneity in a small economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 100-112, June.
    4. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
    5. Soderbery, Anson, 2015. "Estimating import supply and demand elasticities: Analysis and implications," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 1-17.
    6. Philipp J. H. Schröder & Allan Sørensen, 2014. "A Welfare Ranking of Multilateral Reductions in Real and Tariff Trade Barriers when Firms are Heterogenous," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(3), pages 423-443, August.
    7. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-959, December.
    8. Tibor Besedeš & Thomas J. Prusa, 2013. "Antidumping and the Death of Trade," NBER Working Papers 19555, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Jung, Benjamin & Larch, Mario, 2015. "The welfare consequences of import tariffs: A quantitative perspective," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 295-309.
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    Cited by:

    1. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H. & Clance, Matthew W., 2018. "Heterogeneous effects of economic integration agreements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 587-608.
    2. Scott L Baier & Jeffrey H Bergstrand & Matthew W Clance, 2017. "Heterogeneous economic integration agreements' effects, gravity, and welfare," Discussion Papers 2017-05, University of Nottingham, GEP.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F17 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Forecasting and Simulation

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