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Lumpy Trade and the Welfare Effects of Administrative Barriers

  • Cecília Hornok
  • Miklós Koren

Using detailed U.S. and Spanish export data, 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 to analyze these effects and their welfare consequences. Exporters decide not only how much to sell at a given price, but also how to break up total trade into individual shipments. Consumers value frequent shipments, because they enable them to consume close to their preferred dates. Having fewer shipments hence entails a welfare cost. Calibrating the model to observed shipping frequencies and per-shipment costs, we show that countries would gain 2--3 percent of their GDP by eliminating such barriers. This suggests that trade volumes alone are insufficient to understand the gains from trade.

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Paper provided by Center for Firms in the Global Economy in its series CeFiG Working Papers with number 14.

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Date of creation: 22 Sep 2011
Date of revision: 22 Sep 2011
Handle: RePEc:cfg:cfigwp:14
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cefig.eu/

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  1. 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, 04.
  2. George Alessandria & Joseph Kaboski & Virgiliu Midrigan, 2008. "Inventories, lumpy trade, and large devaluations," Working Papers 08-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  3. 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.
  4. Miklos Koren & Roc Armenter, 2008. "A Balls-and-Bins Model of Trade," 2008 Meeting Papers 365, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  5. Irarrazabal, Alfonso & Moxnes, Andreas & Opromolla, Luca David, 2010. "The Tip of the Iceberg: Modeling Trade Costs and Implications for Intra-Industry Reallocation," CEPR Discussion Papers 7685, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Michael Engman, 2005. "The Economic Impact of Trade Facilitation," OECD Trade Policy Papers 21, OECD Publishing.
  7. 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.
  8. Carolyn L. Evans & James Harrigan, 2005. "Distance, Time, and Specialization: Lean Retailing in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 292-313, March.
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