IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Trade, Law, and Product Complexity


  • Daniel Berkowitz
  • Johannes Moenius
  • Katharina Pistor


How does the quality of national institutions that enforce the rule of law influence international trade? Anderson and Marcouiller argue that bad institutions located in the importer's country deter international trade because they enable economic predators to steal and extort rents at the importer's border. We complement this research and show how good institutions located in the exporter's country enhance international trade, in particular, trade in complex products whose characteristics are difficult to fully specify in a contract. We argue that both exporter and importer institutions affect international as well as domestic transaction costs in complex and simple product markets. International transaction costs are a part of the costs of trade. Domestic transaction costs affect complex and simple products differently, thereby changing a country's comparative advantage in producing such goods.We find ample empirical evidence for these predictions: countries that have good institutions tend to export more complex products and import more simple products. Furthermore, institutions have a stronger influence on trade via production costs (comparative advantage) than through international transactions costs. International institutions seem to operate as substitutes for domestic institutions, because good domestic institutions are less important for promoting exports in those countries that have signed the New York Convention. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Berkowitz & Johannes Moenius & Katharina Pistor, 2006. "Trade, Law, and Product Complexity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 363-373, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:88:y:2006:i:2:p:363-373

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    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.

    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:tpr:restat:v:88:y:2006:i:2:p:363-373. 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: (Ann Olson). 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.