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Bilateral Trade Imbalances

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Abstract

Bilateral trade imbalances are determined by aggregate trade imbalances, production and expenditure patterns, and trade barriers. We calibrate a dynamic many-sector trade model to match the recent sectoral trade and production shares of 40 economies and the rest of the world. Through a variance decomposition and counterfactuals, the model allows us to assess the relative importance of these determinants for the observed variation in bilateral imbalances. Large pairwise asymmetries in residual trade "wedges" are needed for the model to match the data. These account for roughly 60% of the variation, with most of the rest due to differences in production and expenditure patterns. Aggregate trade imbalances play a minor role. A counterfactual trade policy which eliminates trade-wedge asymmetries would have sizeable effects on bilateral trade patterns and welfare. However, it would leave aggregate trade balances virtually unchanged.

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  • Alejandro Cunat & Robert Zymek, 2019. "Bilateral Trade Imbalances," Edinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 292, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:292
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    Cited by:

    1. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Yotov, Yoto V., 2021. "From theory to policy with gravitas: A solution to the mystery of the excess trade balances," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 139(C).
    2. Virginia Di Nino & Anna Ekstam, 2020. "What value added in the trade balances of euro area financial centres?," IFC Bulletins chapters, in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Bridging measurement challenges and analytical needs of external statistics: evolution or revolution?, volume 52, Bank for International Settlements.
    3. Céline Carrère & Monika Mrázová & J Peter Neary, 2020. "Gravity Without Apology: the Science of Elasticities, Distance and Trade," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 130(628), pages 880-910.
    4. Klaus Weyerstrass, 2019. "Trade Deficit with China – an Issue for the Euro Area?," EconPol Policy Brief 20, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    5. Carrère, Céline & Mrázová, Monika & Neary, J Peter, 2020. "Gravity without Apologies: The Science of Elasticities, Distance, and Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 14473, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Mariarosaria Comunale & Justas Dainauskas & Povilas Lastauskas, 2021. "What explains excess trade persistence? A theory of habits in the supply chains," CAMA Working Papers 2021-11, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    trade imbalances; trade wedges; gravity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F20 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - General
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General
    • F62 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Macroeconomic Impacts

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