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Transport costs and trade: Empirical evidence for Latin American imports from the European union

  • Inmaculada Martinez-Zarzoso
  • Celestino Suarez-Burguet

This paper aims to investigate the relationship between trade flows and transport costs. In previous studies the cost of transport was considered as an exogenous variable. However, an expanding volume of trade also reduces the unit cost of transport and, therefore, the causal relationship between trade and transport costs may be operating in both directions. A transport-costs equation is estimated using data on transportation costs from the International Transport Data Base (BTI). The relationship between transport costs and trade is then analysed by applying a gravity model for sectoral imports for five Latin American Countries from the European Union. We investigate the endogeneity of the transport cost and trade variables by estimating simultaneously both equations. Our results show that, while higher distance and poor importer's infrastructure notably increase transport costs, a higher volume of trade has the opposite effect. Moreover, trade is significantly deterred by higher transport costs and fostered by cultural similarities.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development.

Volume (Year): 14 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 353-371

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jitecd:v:14:y:2005:i:3:p:353-371
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  1. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119, March.
  2. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
  3. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1985. "The Gravity Equation in International Trade: Some Microeconomic Foundations and Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 474-81, August.
  4. Dollar, David & Micco, Alejandro & Clark, Ximena, 2002. "Maritime transport costs and port efficiency," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2781, The World Bank.
  5. Limao, Nuno & Venables, Anthony J., 1999. "Infrastructure, geographical disadvantage, and transport costs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2257, The World Bank.
  6. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1989. "The Generalized Gravity Equation, Monopolistic Competition, and the Factor-Proportions Theory in International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 143-53, February.
  7. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  8. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  9. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2001. "The growth of world trade: tariffs, transport costs, and income similarity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-27, February.
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