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Administrative Barriers and the Lumpiness of Trade


  • Cecília Hornok
  • Miklós Koren


We document that administrative trade costs of per shipment nature (documentation, customs clearance and inspection) lead to less frequent and larger-sized shipments, i.e., more lumpiness, in international trade. We build a model where consumers have heterogeneous preferences for the arrival time of a non-storable product and firms compete by selecting the time of their shipment. Per shipment costs reduce shipment frequency, increase the shipment size and the product price and lead to welfare losses. We provide empirical evidence for these effects on detailed export data from the US and Spain. We find that US and Spanish exporters send fewer and larger shipments to countries with higher administrative barriers. However, we find no robust evidence that such destination would command higher prices.

Suggested Citation

  • Cecília Hornok & Miklós Koren, 2011. "Administrative Barriers and the Lumpiness of Trade," CEU Working Papers 2012_6, Department of Economics, Central European University, revised 01 Sep 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:ceu:econwp:2012_6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roc Armenter & Mikl?s Koren, 2014. "A Balls-and-Bins Model of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2127-2151, July.
    2. Carolyn L. Evans & James Harrigan, 2003. "Distance, time, and specialization," International Finance Discussion Papers 766, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Michael Engman, 2005. "The Economic Impact of Trade Facilitation," OECD Trade Policy Papers 21, OECD Publishing.
    4. Alfonso Irarrazabal & Andreas Moxnes & Luca David Opromolla, 2015. "The Tip of the Iceberg: A Quantitative Framework for Estimating Trade Costs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(4), pages 777-792, October.
    5. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2004. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1384-1402, December.
    6. Cecília Hornok, 2011. "Need for Speed: Is Faster Trade in the EU Trade-Creating?," wiiw Working Papers 75, The Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, wiiw.
    7. Joseph Francois & Hans Van Meijl & Frank Van Tongeren, 2005. "Trade liberalization in the Doha Development Round," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 20(42), pages 349-391, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Volpe Martincus, Christian & Carballo, Jerónimo & Graziano, Alejandro, 2015. "Customs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 119-137.
    2. repec:spr:weltar:v:153:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10290-017-0286-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Jerónimo Carballo & Georg Schaur & Christian Volpe Martincus, 2016. "Posts as Trade Facilitators," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 94576, Inter-American Development Bank.
    4. Volpe Martincus, Christian & Carballo, Jerónimo & Graziano, Alejandro, 2015. "Customs," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 119-137.
    5. Gábor Békés & Lionel Fontagné & Balázs Muraközy & Vincent Vicard, 2017. "Shipment frequency of exporters and demand uncertainty," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 153(4), pages 779-807, November.
    6. Kropf, Andreas & Sauré, Philip, 2014. "Fixed costs per shipment," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 166-184.
    7. Timothy Uy, 2015. "Zeros and the Gains from Openness," 2015 Meeting Papers 1158, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Jerónimo Carballo & Georg Schaur & Christian Volpe Martincus, 2016. "Posts as Trade Facilitators," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7681, Inter-American Development Bank.

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