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The World Trade Network


  • Luca De Benedictis

    (University of Macerata)

  • Lucia Tajoli

    (Politecnico di Milano)


This paper uses the tools of network analysis and graph theory to graphically and analytically represent the characteristics of world trade. The structure of the World Trade Network is compared over time, detecting and interpreting patterns of trade ties among countries. In particular, we assess whether the entrance of a number of new important players into the world trading system in recent years has changed the main characteristics of the existing structure of world trade, or whether the existing network was simply extended to a new group of countries. We also analyze whether the observed changes in international trade flow patterns are related to the multilateral or the regional liberalization policies. The results show that trade integration at the world level has been increasing but it is still far from being complete, with the exception of some areas, that there is a strong heterogeneity in the countries’ choice of partners, and that the WTO plays an important role in trade integration. The role of the extensive and the intensive margin of trade is also highlighted.

Suggested Citation

  • Luca De Benedictis & Lucia Tajoli, 2009. "The World Trade Network," Working Papers 51-2009, Macerata University, Department of Finance and Economic Sciences, revised Mar 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcr:wpdief:wpaper50

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gabriel J Felbermayr & Wilhelm Kohler, 2014. "Exploring the Intensive and Extensive Margins of World Trade," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: European Economic Integration, WTO Membership, Immigration and Offshoring, chapter 4, pages 115-148 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    4. Sanjeev Goyal, 2007. "Introduction to Connections: An Introduction to the Economics of Networks," Introductory Chapters,in: Connections: An Introduction to the Economics of Networks Princeton University Press.
    5. Magee, Christopher S.P., 2008. "New measures of trade creation and trade diversion," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 349-362, July.
    6. Gaulier, Guillaume & Zignago, Soledad, 2004. "Notes on BACI (analytical database of international trade). 1989-2002 version," MPRA Paper 32401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Giorgio Fagiolo & Javier Reyes & Stefano Schiavo, 2007. "The Evolution of the World Trade Web," LEM Papers Series 2007/17, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    8. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487.
    9. Martina Lawless, 2010. "Deconstructing gravity: trade costs and extensive and intensive margins," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1149-1172, November.
    10. Egger, Peter & Larch, Mario, 2008. "Interdependent preferential trade agreement memberships: An empirical analysis," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 384-399, December.
    11. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers Archive 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    12. Simon J. Evenett & Wolfgang Keller, 2002. "On Theories Explaining the Success of the Gravity Equation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 281-316, April.
    13. Raja Kali & Javier Reyes, 2007. "The architecture of globalization: a network approach to international economic integration," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 38(4), pages 595-620, July.
    14. Garlaschelli, Diego & Loffredo, Maria I., 2005. "Structure and evolution of the world trade network," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 355(1), pages 138-144.
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    Network analysis; International Trade; WTO; Extensive and Intensive Margins of Trade; Gravity;

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