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Constraints on Trade in the MENA region

  • Hirut Wolde
  • Rina Bhattacharya
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    In this paper we estimate gravity models to see whether trade volumes of countries in the MENA region are significantly lower than what would be expected given their economic, cultural and geographical characteristics. Our empirical results show that the variables used in standard gravity models cannot explain a significant part of MENA's trade performance, particularly on exports. We then go on to 'augment' the standard gravity model with relevant variables from the World Bank's Business Enterprise surveys. Our results further show that these variables, and in particular transport constraints and inefficiencies in customs clearance processes, are important in explaining the MENA region's underperformance in trade.

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    Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 10/31.

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    Length: 19
    Date of creation: 01 Feb 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:10/31
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    1. Coe, David T & Hoffmaister, Alexander W, 1999. "North-South Trade: Is Africa Unusual?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 8(2), pages 228-56, July.
    2. Robert C. Feenstra & James R. Markusen & Andrew K. Rose, 2001. "Using the gravity equation to differentiate among alternative theories of trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 430-447, May.
    3. Norbert Wilson, 2007. "Examining the Trade Effect of Certain Customs and Administrative Procedures," OECD Trade Policy Papers 42, OECD Publishing.
    4. Helpman, Elhanan, 1987. "Imperfect competition and international trade: Evidence from fourteen industrial countries," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 62-81, March.
    5. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1985. "The Gravity Equation in International Trade: Some Microeconomic Foundations and Empirical Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(3), pages 474-81, August.
    6. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "Increasing returns, imperfect markets, and trade theory," Handbook of International Economics, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 325-365 Elsevier.
    7. Alan V. Deardorff, 1995. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade: Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," NBER Working Papers 5377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Dollar, David & Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Mengistae, Taye, 2005. "Investment Climate and Firm Performance in Developing Economies," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(1), pages 1-31, October.
    9. Stanley Fischer & Mohamed A. El-Erian, 1996. "Is MENA a Region? The Scope for Regional Integration," IMF Working Papers 96/30, International Monetary Fund.
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