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Are Regional Trading Partners "Natural"?

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  • Pravin Krishna

Abstract

A central statement of the theory of natural trading partners is that preferential trading with regional trading partners is less likely to be trade diverting and therefore geographically proximate partners are to be considered "natural" partners for preferential arrangements. This paper examines this question empirically. The analytical framework involves a general equilibrium model of preferential trade and an econometric model with tight links to this theory. This framework is used to implement tests of the natural trading partners hypothesis using U.S. trade data for the years 196495: Welfare changes that would result from preferential tariff reductions by the United States against various trading partners are first estimated, and correlations with bilateral "distance" measures (with and without controls for income levels) are then examined. Since the argument for "natural" trading partners is based on the greater likelihood of geographically proximate countries to be more significant trading partners, correlations between the welfare change estimates and bilateral trade volume are examined as well. Both geographic proximity and trade volume are found to have no effect. Thus this paper is unable to find any support for the natural trading partners theory in U.S. data.

Suggested Citation

  • Pravin Krishna, 2003. "Are Regional Trading Partners "Natural"?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(1), pages 202-231, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:111:y:2003:i:1:p:202-231
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    1. Hickman, Bert G. & Lau, Lawrence J., 1973. "Elasticities of substitution and export demands in a world trade model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 347-380, December.
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    4. Morris Goldstein & Mohsin S. Khan, 2017. "The Supply and Demand for Exports: A Simultaneous Approach," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: TRADE CURRENCIES AND FINANCE, chapter 2, pages 83-104 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    6. William A. Barnett, 1979. "Theoretical Foundations for the Rotterdam Model," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 46(1), pages 109-130.
    7. Geraci, Vincent J & Prewo, Wilfried, 1982. "An Empirical Demand and Supply Model of Multilateral Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(3), pages 432-441, August.
    8. McMillan, John & McCann, Ewen, 1981. "Welfare Effects in Customs Unions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 91(363), pages 697-703, September.
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