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Time as a Trade Barrier

  • Hummels, David

International trade occurs in physical space and moving goods requires time. This paper examines the importance of time as a trade barrier, estimates the magnitude of time costs, and relates these to patterns of trade and the international organization of production. Estimates indicate that each additional day spent in transport reduces the probability that the US will source from that country by 1 – 1.5 percent. Conditional on exporting country, estimates directly identify a willingness-to-pay for time savings using variation across exporters and commodities in the relative price / speed tradeoff for air and ocean shipping. Each day saved in shipping time is worth 0.8 percent ad-valorem for manufactured goods. Relative declines over time in air shipping prices make time-savings less expensive, providing a compelling explanation for aggregate trade growth, compositional effects in trade growth, as well as growth in time-intensive forms of integration such as vertical specialization. Specifically, the advent of fast transport (air shipping and faster ocean vessels) is equivalent to reducing tariffs on manufactured goods from 32% to 9% between 1950-1998.

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File URL: https://www.gtap.agecon.purdue.edu/resources/res_display.asp?RecordID=1152
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Paper provided by Center for Global Trade Analysis, Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University in its series GTAP Working Papers with number 1152.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:gta:workpp:1152
Note: GTAP Working Paper No. 18
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  1. Carolyn Evans & James Harrigan, 2003. "Distance, time, and specialization," International Finance Discussion Papers 766, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  2. Choi, Yo Chul & Hummels, David & Xiang, Chong, 2009. "Explaining import quality: The role of the income distribution," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 265-275, April.
  3. Amit Khandelwal, 2009. "The Long and Short (of) Quality Ladders," NBER Working Papers 15178, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cristea, Anca & Hummels, David & Puzzello, Laura & Avetisyan, Misak, 2013. "Trade and the greenhouse gas emissions from international freight transport," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 153-173.
  5. Simeon Djankov & Caroline Freund & Cong S. Pham, 2010. "Trading on Time," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(1), pages 166-173, February.
  6. Hummels, David & Lugovskyy, Volodymyr & Skiba, Alexandre, 2009. "The trade reducing effects of market power in international shipping," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 84-97, May.
  7. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. David Hummels & Rasmus J?rgensen & Jakob Munch & Chong Xiang, 2014. "The Wage Effects of Offshoring: Evidence from Danish Matched Worker-Firm Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(6), pages 1597-1629, June.
  10. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2001. "The growth of world trade: tariffs, transport costs, and income similarity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-27, February.
  11. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487, 05.
  12. Hummels, David L. & Schaur, Georg, 2010. "Hedging price volatility using fast transport," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 15-25, September.
  13. David Hummels, 2007. "Transportation Costs and International Trade in the Second Era of Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 131-154, Summer.
  14. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
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