IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

A rather empty world: the many faces of distance and the persistent resistance to international trade


  • Gert-Jan M. Linders
  • Martijn J. Burger
  • Frank G. van Oort


Despite the rapid growth of world trade over the past several decades, international trade patterns remain very much affected by high trade costs. In this paper, we emphasize the importance of distance between countries in a proper explanation of the persistent resistance to trade. We find that both formal trade barriers (tariffs, transport costs, etc.) and informal trade barriers (related to cultural and institutional distances) between countries have retained their importance to trade. Not only are these tangible and intangible barriers critical in explaining the volume of trade between countries but they also help to explain the absence of trade between many countries. Copyright 2008, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Gert-Jan M. Linders & Martijn J. Burger & Frank G. van Oort, 2008. "A rather empty world: the many faces of distance and the persistent resistance to international trade," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 1(3), pages 439-458.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cjrecs:v:1:y:2008:i:3:p:439-458

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David LABORDE & Jean SÉBASTIEN, "undated". "The Impact of Multilateral Liberalisation on European Regions: a CGE Assessment," EcoMod2004 330600087, EcoMod.
    2. Harrigan, Frank & McGregor, Peter G. & Dourmashkin, Neil & Perman, Roger & Swales, Kim & Yin, Ya Ping, 1991. "AMOS : A macro-micro model of Scotland," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 424-479, October.
    3. Peter B. Dixon & Maureen T. Rimmer, 2010. "Johansen's contribution to CGE modelling: originator and guiding light for 50 years," Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre Working Papers g-203, Victoria University, Centre of Policy Studies/IMPACT Centre.
    4. Peter B. Dixon & Maureen T. Rimmer & Marinos E. Tsigas, 2007. "Regionalising results from a detailed CGE model: Macro, industry and state effects in the U.S. of removing major tariffs and quotas," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(1), pages 31-55, March.
    5. James Giesecke, 2002. "Explaining regional economic performance: An historical application of a dynamic multi-regional CGE model," Review of Economic Design, Springer;Society for Economic Design, vol. 81(2), pages 247-278, April.
    6. James Andrew Giesecke, 2011. "Development of a Large-scale Single US Region CGE Model using IMPLAN Data: A Los Angeles County Example with a Productivity Shock Application," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(3), pages 331-350, April.
    7. Peter B. Dixon & Mark R. Picton & Maureen T. Rimmer, 2005. "Efficiency Effects Of Changes In Commonwealth Grants To The States: A Cge Analysis ," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 44(1), pages 82-104, March.
    8. Dixon, Peter B & Menon, Jayant & Rimmer, Maureen T, 2000. "Changes in Technology and Preferences: A General Equilibrium Explanation of Rapid Growth in Trade," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(1), pages 33-55, March.
    9. Haddad, Eduardo A. & Hewings, Geoffrey J.D., 2005. "Market imperfections in a spatial economy: some experimental results," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 45(2-3), pages 476-496, May.
    10. Giesecke, James A. & Madden, John R., 2013. "Regional Computable General Equilibrium Modeling," Handbook of Computable General Equilibrium Modeling, Elsevier.
    11. Mark Partridge & Dan Rickman, 2010. "Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) Modelling for Regional Economic Development Analysis," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(10), pages 1311-1328.
    12. Mark D. Partridge & Dan S. Rickman, 1998. "Regional Computable General Equilibrium Modeling: A Survey and Critical Appraisal," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 21(3), pages 205-248, December.
    13. Noelwah R. Netusil & Thomas R. Harris & Chang K. Seung & Jeffrey E. Englin, 2000. "Impacts of water reallocation: A combined computable general equilibrium and recreation demand model approach," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 34(4), pages 473-487.
    14. Karen Turner & Soo Jung Ha & Geoffrey J.D. Hewings & Peter Mcgregor & Kim Swales, 2012. "Econometric Estimation Of Armington Import Elasticities For A Regional Cge Model Of The Illinois Economy," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(1), pages 1-19, April.
    15. James Giesecke & John Madden, 2010. "Uncovering the Factors behind Comparative Regional Economic Performance: A Multi-regional Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) Approach," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(10), pages 1329-1349.
    16. Dixon, P.B. & Parmenter, B.R. & Sutton, J., 1978. "Spatial Disaggregation of Orani Results: A Preliminary Analysis of the Impact of Protection at the State Level," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 35-86.
    17. Liew, Leong H., 1984. "A Johansen model for regional analysis," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 129-146, February.
    18. Peter B. Dixon & Maureen T. Rimmer & Glyn Wittwer, 2011. "Saving the Southern Murray‐Darling Basin: The Economic Effects of a Buyback of Irrigation Water," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 87(276), pages 153-168, March.
    19. Morgan, William & Mutti, John & Rickman, Dan, 1996. "Tax Exporting, Regional Economic Growth, and Welfare," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 131-159, March.
    20. John R. Madden, 2002. "The economic impact of national competition policy on Australian regions," European Planning Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 41-56, August.
    21. James Giesecke, 2003. "Targeting Regional Output with State Government Fiscal Instruments: a Dynamic Multi-regional CGE Analysis," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 214-233, June.
    22. Gary Gillespie & Peter Mcgregor & J. Kim Swales & Ya Ping Yin, 2001. "The Displacement and Multiplier Effects of Regional Selective Assistance: A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(2), pages 125-139.
    23. Jeffery I. Round, 1983. "Nonsurvey Techniques: A Critical Review of the Theory and the Evidence," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 8(3), pages 189-212, December.
    24. James Giesecke, 2008. "A Top-down Framework for Regional Historical Analysis," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(1), pages 45-87.
    25. Naqvi, Farzana & Peter, Matthew W, 1996. "A Multiregional, Multisectoral Model of the Australian Economy with an Illustrative Application," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(66), pages 94-113, June.
    26. James Giesecke & Peter B. Dixon & Maureen T. Rimmer, 2008. "Regional macroeconomic outcomes under alternative arrangements for the financing of public infrastructure," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 87(1), pages 3-31, March.
    27. Dixon, Peter B. & Rimmer, Maureen T., 2013. "Validation in Computable General Equilibrium Modeling," Handbook of Computable General Equilibrium Modeling, Elsevier.
    28. Johannes Bröcker & Martin Schneider, 2002. "How Does Economic Development in Eastern Europe Affect Austria's Regions? A Multiregional General Equilibrium Framework," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(2), pages 257-285.
    29. Euijune Kim & Geoffrey Hewings & Chowoon Hong, 2004. "An Application of an Integrated Transport Network- Multiregional CGE Model: a Framework for the Economic Analysis of Highway Projects," Economic Systems Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 235-258.
    30. Morgan, William & Mutti, John & Patridge, Mark, 1989. "A Regional Equilibrium Model of the United States: Tax Effects on Factor Movements and Regional Production," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(4), pages 626-635, November.
    31. Thomas Rutherford & Hannu Torma†, 2010. "Efficiency of Fiscal Measures in Preventing Out-migration from North Finland," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 465-475.
    32. James Giesecke & John R. Madden, 2003. "Regional Labour Market Adjustment to Competition Policy Reforms: A Dynamic CGE Framework for Assessment," Australian Journal of Labour Economics (AJLE), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School, vol. 6(3), pages 409-433, September.
    33. Peter J. Higgs & B. R. Parmenter & Russell J. Rimmer, 1988. "A Hybrid Top-Down, Bottom-Up Regional Computable General Equilibrium Model," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 11(3), pages 317-328, December.
    34. Dixon, Peter B. & Parmenter, B. R. & Powell, Alan A., 1984. "The role of miniatures in computable general equilibrium modelling : Experience from ORANI," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 1(4), pages 421-428, October.
    35. Peter B. Dixon & Mark R. Picton & Maureen T. Rimmer, 2002. "Efficiency Effects of Inter-Government Financial Transfers in Australia," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 35(3), pages 304-315.
    36. Perali, Federico & Pieroni, Luca & Standardi, Gabriele, 2012. "World tariff liberalization in agriculture: An assessment using a global CGE trade model for EU15 regions," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 155-180.
    37. Peter B. Dixon & Maureen T. Rimmer, 2010. "Validating a Detailed, Dynamic CGE Model of the USA," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 86(s1), pages 22-34, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Bernauer, Thomas & Spilker, Gabriele & Umaña, Víctor, 2014. "Different countries same partners: Experimental Evidence on PTA Partner Country Choice from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Vietnam," Papers 739, World Trade Institute.
    2. Kit Chi Chung & Pauline Fleming & Euan Fleming, 2013. "The impact of information and communication technology on international trade in fruit and vegetables in APEC," Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, vol. 27(2), pages 117-130, November.
    3. Murat Genç & David Law, 2014. "A Gravity Model of Barriers to Trade in New Zealand," Treasury Working Paper Series 14/05, New Zealand Treasury.
    4. Martijn J. Burger & Mark J. P. M. Thissen & Frank G. van Oort & Dario Diodato, 2014. "The Magnitude and Distance Decay of Trade in Goods and Services: New Evidence for European Countries," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(3), pages 231-259, September.
    5. Bruna, Fernando & Faíña, Andrés & Lopez-Rodriguez, Jesus, 2014. "Market Potential and the curse of distance in European regions," MPRA Paper 56747, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Maureen Lankhuizen & Henri L. F. de Groot & Gert‐Jan M. Linders, 2011. "The Trade‐Off between Foreign Direct Investments and Exports: The Role of Multiple Dimensions of Distance," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(8), pages 1395-1416, August.
    7. Fleming, Euan M. & Thiemann, Franziska & Mueller, Rolf A.E., 2011. "Information and Communication Technology and the Global Flow of Wine: A Gravity Model of ICT in Wine Trade," 2011 International Congress, August 30-September 2, 2011, Zurich, Switzerland 114353, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Charles Plaigin, 2009. "Exploratory study on the presence of cultural and institutional growth spillovers," DULBEA Working Papers 09-03.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    9. Francesco Picciolo & Tiziano Squartini & Franco Ruzzenenti & Riccardo Basosi & Diego Garlaschelli, 2012. "The role of distances in the World Trade Web," Papers 1210.3269,, revised Oct 2012.
    10. Tobias Schlueter & Soenke Sievers, 2014. "Determinants of market beta: the impacts of firm-specific accounting figures and market conditions," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 535-570, April.
    11. Martijn Burger & Frank van Oort & Gert-Jan Linders, 2009. "On the Specification of the Gravity Model of Trade: Zeros, Excess Zeros and Zero-inflated Estimation," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 167-190.
    12. Pahan Prasada, 2011. "National and supranational institutions and trade," STUDIES IN TRADE AND INVESTMENT,in: Trade-led growth: A sound strategy for Asia, chapter 10 United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
    13. Pat McAllister & Anupam Nanda, 2016. "Does Real Estate Defy Gravity? An Analysis of Foreign Real Estate Investment Flows," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(5), pages 924-948, November.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:cjrecs:v:1:y:2008:i:3:p:439-458. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.