IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Pacific islands' bilateral trade: the role of remoteness and of transport costs


  • Lisa Borgatti

    (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes, Geneva, Switzerland)


Bilateral trade of geographically distant countries is likely to be negatively affected by the distance separating them from their trading partners and positively affected by their remoteness, defined as the average weighted distance between two countries with weights reflecting the absorptive capacity of the partner country. In presence of competitive transport costs, the effect of remoteness and distance is diluted. An augmented gravity model applied to the Pacific islands' bilateral trade from 1980 to 2004 shows that a doubling of the elasticity of distance would decrease their average bilateral trade by 80 per cent. Remoteness positively affects the Pacific islands' bilateral trade, but does not compensate for the negative effect of distance. The opposite is found for the Caribbean islands, where the elasticity of trade with respect to remoteness is six times bigger than that for the Pacific islands. By lowering transport costs, improved infrastructure fosters trade. A cluster analysis for 30 small island developing states shows that the Pacific islands belong to the clusters with the weaker infrastructure stocks, leaving them with a large scope for improvement. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Lisa Borgatti, 2008. "Pacific islands' bilateral trade: the role of remoteness and of transport costs," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 486-501.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:20:y:2008:i:4:p:486-501 DOI: 10.1002/jid.1473

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Link to full text; subscription required
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeffrey A. Frankel, David Romer and Teresa Cyrus., 1995. "Trade and Growth in East Asian Countries: Cause and Effect?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C95-050, University of California at Berkeley.
    2. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
    3. I-Hui Cheng & Howard J. Wall, 2005. "Controlling for heterogeneity in gravity models of trade and integration," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 49-63.
    4. Alan Deardorff, 1998. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade: Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," NBER Chapters,in: The Regionalization of the World Economy, pages 7-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Berlage, Lodewijk & Terweduwe, Dirk, 1988. "The classification of countries by cluster and by factor analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 16(12), pages 1527-1545, December.
    6. Jeffrey A. Frankel & Andrew K. Rose, 2000. "Estimating the Effect of Currency Unions on Trade and Output," NBER Working Papers 7857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Bougheas, Spiros & Demetriades, Panicos O. & Morgenroth, Edgar L. W., 1999. "Infrastructure, transport costs and trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 169-189, February.
    8. Limao, Nuno & Venables, Anthony J., 1999. "Infrastructure, geographical disadvantage, and transport costs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2257, The World Bank.
    9. Estache, Antonio & Goicoechea, Ana, 2005. "A"research"database on infrastructure economic performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3643, The World Bank.
    10. Malik, Adeel & Temple, Jonathan R.W., 2009. "The geography of output volatility," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(2), pages 163-178, November.
    11. Jacques J. Polak, 1996. "Is APEC a Natural Regional Trading Bloc? A Critique of the ‘Gravity Model’of International Trade," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(5), pages 533-543, 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. M. Del Gatto & C. Mastinu, 2015. "Geography, Cultural Remoteness and Economic Development: A Regional Analysis of the Economic Consequences of Insularity," Working Paper CRENoS 201503, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.

    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:wly:jintdv:v:20:y:2008:i:4:p:486-501. 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: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) 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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.