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Determinants of Maritime Transport Costs

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  • Alejandro Micco
  • Natalia Perez

Abstract

Recent literature has emphasized the importance of transport costs and infrastructure in explaining trade, access to markets, and increases in per capita income. For most Latin American countries, transport costs are a greater barrier to U. S. markets than import tariffs. We investigate the determinants of shipping costs to the U. S. with a large database of more than 300,000 observations per year on shipments of products at the six-digit HS level from different ports around the world. Distance and containerization matter. In addition, we find that efficiency of ports is an important determinant of shipping costs. Improving port efficiency from the 25th to the 75th percentile reduces shipping costs by 12 percent. (Bad ports are equivalent to being 60 percent farther away from markets for the average country. ) Inefficient ports also increase handling costs, which are one of the components of shipping costs. We try to explain variations in port efficiency and find that they are linked to excessive regulation, the prevalence of organized crime, and the general condition of the country’s infrastructure. Finally, we present a number of success stories in Latin America to show that private involvement in port management leads to efficiency and lower costs whenever it is accompanied by labor reform, and when monopoly power is reduced through either regulation or competition.

Suggested Citation

  • Alejandro Micco & Natalia Perez, 2002. "Determinants of Maritime Transport Costs," Research Department Publications 4247, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4247
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Borchert, Ingo & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2016. "The trade reducing effects of restrictions on liner shippingAuthor-Name: Bertho, Fabien," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 231-242.
    2. Pamela Coke Hamilton & Yvonne Tsikata & Emmanuel Pinto Moreira, 2009. "Accelerating Trade and Integration in the Caribbean : Policy Options for Sustained Growth, Job Creation, and Poverty Reduction," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2652.
    3. Hugo Rojas-Romagosa & Eddy Bekkers & Joseph F. Francois, 2015. "Melting Ice Caps and the Economic Impact of Opening the Northern Sea Route," CPB Discussion Paper 307, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis.
    4. Wilmsmeier Gordon & Sánchez Ricardo J., 2010. "Evolution of shipping networks," Zeitschrift für Wirtschaftsgeographie, De Gruyter, vol. 54(1), pages 180-193, October.
    5. Enrico Pastori & Miriam Tagliavia & Enrico Tosti & Simonetta Zappa, 2014. "The survey on international freight rates in Italy: methods and results," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 223, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    6. Productivity Commission, 2005. "Review of Part X of the Trade Practices Act 1974: International Liner Cargo Shipping," Inquiry Reports, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia, number 32.
    7. Inmaculada Martínez-Zarzoso & Felicitas Nowak-Lehmann D., 2006. "Road and Maritime Transport Costs: A Comparative Analysis of Spanish Exports to Poland and Turkey," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 138, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Amann, Edmund & Baer, Werner & Trebat, Thomas & Lora, Juan Villa, 2016. "Infrastructure and its role in Brazil's development process," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 66-73.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices
    • L92 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Railroads and Other Surface Transportation

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