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Regional Integration and Informal Trade in Africa: Evidence from Benin's Borders

Author

Listed:
  • Cristina Mitaritonna
  • Sami Bensassi
  • Joachim Jarreau

Abstract

Regional trade is low in sub-saharan Africa. But a large share of regional trade is informal, i.e. not recorded in offcial data. This paper studies the relationship between trade barriers and informality of trade. We use an original survey of informal transactions across Benin's land borders, which provides the first direct and comprehensive account of trade volumes and product coverage for this type of trade. We combine this data with official trade records and exploit variation across products and countries to measure the impact of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade on informality. Increasing tariffs on a given product by 10% makes it about 12% more likely that this product is imported informally rather than formally. Non-tariff measures also increase informality. Our results also suggest that compliance costs, aside from tariffs and regulations, contribute to explain informality.

Suggested Citation

  • Cristina Mitaritonna & Sami Bensassi & Joachim Jarreau, 2017. "Regional Integration and Informal Trade in Africa: Evidence from Benin's Borders," Working Papers 2017-21, CEPII research center.
  • Handle: RePEc:cii:cepidt:2017-21
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David L. Hummels & Georg Schaur, 2013. "Time as a Trade Barrier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2935-2959, December.
    2. Charlotte Emlinger & Florence Jacquet & Emmanuelle Chevassus Lozza, 2008. "Tariffs and other trade costs: assessing obstacles to Mediterranean countries' access to EU-15 fruit and vegetable markets," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 35(4), pages 409-438, December.
    3. Raymond Fisman & Shang-Jin Wei, 2004. "Tax Rates and Tax Evasion: Evidence from "Missing Imports" in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 471-500, April.
    4. Sequeira, Sandra & Djankov, Simeon, 2014. "Corruption and firm behavior: Evidence from African ports," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 277-294.
    5. Antoine Bouët & Devesh Roy, 2012. "Trade protection and tax evasion: Evidence from Kenya, Mauritius, and Nigeria," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(2), pages 287-320, April.
    6. Pitt, Mark M., 1981. "Smuggling and price disparity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 447-458, November.
    7. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
    8. Papke, Leslie E & Wooldridge, Jeffrey M, 1996. "Econometric Methods for Fractional Response Variables with an Application to 401(K) Plan Participation Rates," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 619-632, Nov.-Dec..
    9. Stephen S. Golub, 2012. "Entrepôt Trade and Smuggling in West Africa: Benin, Togo and Nigeria," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(9), pages 1139-1161, September.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informal Trade; Regional Integration; Trade Facilitation; Evasion; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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