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On the measurement of trade costs: direct vs. indirect approaches to quantifying standards and technical regulations

  • Natalie Chen
  • Dennis Novy

In this article, we review the literature on the measurement of trade costs in international trade with a special emphasis on nontariff measures and in particular on standards and technical regulations. We distinguish ‘direct’ from ‘indirect’ approaches. The direct approach collects observable data or proxy variables on trade cost components which are then typically used as regressors in a gravity equation of trade. Instead, the indirect approach infers the extent of trade impediments from trade flows. It compares actual trade flows to the trade flows predicted by a hypothetical frictionless benchmark scenario based on a micro-founded trade model, attributing the deviation of actual from predicted trade flows to trade frictions. We argue that economists and policymakers can gain useful insights from both approaches.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/51509/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 51509.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:51509
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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Chen, Natalie & Novy, Dennis, 2011. "Gravity, trade integration, and heterogeneity across industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 206-221.
  2. Shang-Jin Wei, 1996. "Intra-National versus International Trade: How Stubborn are Nations in Global Integration?," NBER Working Papers 5531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Witold Czubala & Ben Shepherd & John S. Wilson, 2009. "Help or Hindrance? The Impact of Harmonised Standards on African Exports †," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 18(5), pages 711-744, November.
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  5. Portugal-Perez, Alberto & Reyes, Jose-Daniel & Wilson, John S., 2009. "Beyond the information technology agreement : harmonization of standards and trade in electronics," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4916, The World Bank.
  6. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2009. "Bonus vetus OLS: A simple method for approximating international trade-cost effects using the gravity equation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 77-85, February.
  7. Wilson, John S. & Otsuki, Tsunehiro, 2004. "To spray or not to spray: pesticides, banana exports, and food safety," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 131-146, April.
  8. Daria Taglioni & Richard Baldwin, 2014. "Gravity chains: Estimating bilateral trade flows when parts and components trade is important," Journal of Banking and Financial Economics, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 2(2), pages 61-82, November.
  9. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2006. "Globalization and the Gains from Variety," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 541-585, May.
  10. Novy, Dennis, 2008. "Gravity Redux : Measuring International Trade Costs with Panel Data," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 861, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  11. Essaji, Azim, 2008. "Technical regulations and specialization in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 166-176, December.
  12. Xiong, Bo & Beghin, John C., 2010. "Does European Aflatoxin Regulation Hurt Groundnut Exporters from Africa?," Staff General Research Papers 31595, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  13. Temple, Paul & Urga, Giovanni, 1997. "The Competitiveness of UK Manufacturing: Evidence from Imports," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(2), pages 207-27, April.
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  16. Feenstra, Robert C, 1994. "New Product Varieties and the Measurement of International Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 157-77, March.
  17. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  18. John Wilson & Tsunehiro Otsuki & Baishali Majumdsar, 2003. "Balancing food safety and risk: do drug residue limits affect international trade in beef?," The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(4), pages 377-402.
  19. Disdier, Anne-Celia & Fontagne, Lionel & Mimouni, Mondher, 2008. "AJAE Appendix: The Impact of Regulations on Agricultural Trade: Evidence from the SPS and TBT Agreements," American Journal of Agricultural Economics Appendices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 90(2), May.
  20. Chen, Natalie, 2004. "Intra-national versus international trade in the European Union: why do national borders matter?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 93-118, May.
  21. Maggie X. Chen & Aaditya Mattoo, 2008. "Regionalism in Standards: Good or Bad for Trade?," Working Papers 2009-14, The George Washington University, Institute for International Economic Policy.
  22. Czubala, Witold & Shepherd, Ben & Wilson, John S., 2007. "Help or hindrance ? the impact of harmonized standards on african exports," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4400, The World Bank.
  23. Maskus, Keith E. & Otsuki, Tsunehiro & Wilson, John S., 2005. "The cost of compliance with product standards for firms in developing countries: an econometric study," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3590, The World Bank.
  24. Robert Shimer, 2009. "Convergence in Macroeconomics: The Labor Wedge," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 280-97, January.
  25. Ana Cecília Fieler, 2011. "Nonhomotheticity and Bilateral Trade: Evidence and a Quantitative Explanation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(4), pages 1069-1101, 07.
  26. Swann, Peter & Temple, Paul & Shurmer, Mark, 1996. "Standards and Trade Performance: The UK Experience," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1297-1313, September.
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  29. repec:inr:wpaper:244269 is not listed on IDEAS
  30. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2001. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 8079, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  31. Bruno Henry de Frahan & Mark Vancauteren, 2006. "Harmonisation of food regulations and trade in the Single Market: evidence from disaggregated data," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 33(3), pages 337-360, September.
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  33. Jane Korinek & Mark Melatos & Marie-Luise Rau, 2008. "A Review of Methods for Quantifying the Trade Effects of Standards in the Agri-Food Sector," OECD Trade Policy Papers 79, OECD Publishing.
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