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

Author

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  • 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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    Cited by:

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    2. Courage Mlambo, 2021. "The Impact of Port Performance on Trade: The Case of Selected African States," Economies, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-18, September.
    3. Boker Poumie & Edmond Noubissi Domguia & Borice Augustin Ngounou & Thierry Messie Pondie & Joseph Nzomo Tcheuta, 2023. "The effect of the informal economy on bilateral exports from sub‐Saharan African countries," African Development Review, African Development Bank, vol. 35(1), pages 65-78, March.
    4. Fabien Candau & Geoffroy Guepie & Reine Kouakou, 2018. "In Gravity no Veritas: Dubious Trade Elasticiy and Weak Effects of Regional Trade Agreements in Africa," Working Papers hal-02625930, HAL.
    5. Drinkwater, Stephen & Robinson, Catherine, 2023. "The impact of customs and trade regulations on the operations of African firms," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 165(C).
    6. Stender, Frederik & Vogel, Tim, 2021. "Murky trade waters: Regional tariff commitments and non-tariff measures in Africa," IDOS Discussion Papers 13/2021, German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS).
    7. Jakob Rauschendorfer & Ben Shepherd, 2022. "Trade, conflict and informality: Evidence from the South Sudanese civil war," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(3), pages 867-894, March.
    8. Jacqueline M. Klopp & Melissa Trimble & Eleanor Wiseman, 2022. "Corruption, gender, and small‐scale cross‐border trade in East Africa: A review," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 40(5), September.
    9. Eberhard-Ruiz, Andreas & Moradi, Alexander, 2019. "Regional market integration in East Africa: Local but no regional effects?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 255-268.
    10. Walkenhorst, Peter, 2021. "Disability, Empathy and Trade: Evidence from Small-Scale Cross-Border Transactions in Uganda," MPRA Paper 112796, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Jade Siu, 2020. "Formalising informal cross-border trade: Evidence from One-Stop-Border-Posts in Uganda," Discussion Papers 20-08, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informal Trade; Regional Integration; Trade Facilitation; Evasion; Africa;
    All these keywords.

    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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