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Local Comparative Advantage: Trade Costs and the Pattern of Trade

  • Alan V Deardorff

    (University of Michigan)

When there are costs of trade, such as transport or other costs, the pattern of trade may not be well described by the usual measures of comparative advantage, which simply compare a country’s costs or autarky prices to those of the world. Instead, a better comparison takes into account the costs of trade. This paper shows first, in an example, how trade patterns can vary with costs of trade. It then provides restatements of the Law of Comparative Advantage, first in a Ricardian model with trade costs. It then extends a result from Deardorff (1980) and Dixit and Norman (1980) to include trade costs explicitly in a more general framework. It uses this result to derive two correlations that relate trade patterns to measures of comparative advantage that take account of both autarky prices and the costs of trade. Finally, it examines the solution to a trade model with product differentiation in order to make the potential role of trade costs more explicit, both algebraically and graphically. With product differentiation either by country or by firm, net trade in an industry, both bilaterally and globally, depends on a country’s costs of both production and trade relative to an index of those costs for other countries.

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File URL: http://fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/workingpapers/Papers476-500/r500.pdf
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Paper provided by Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan in its series Working Papers with number 500.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mie:wpaper:500
Contact details of provider: Postal: ANN ARBOR MICHIGAN 48109
Web page: http://fordschool.umich.edu/rsie/

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  1. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  2. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  3. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1975. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 64, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  4. Harry P. Bowen & Edward E. Leamer & Leo Sveikauskas, 1986. "Multicountry, Multifactor Tests of the Factor Abundance Theory," NBER Working Papers 1918, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Deardorff, Alan V, 1980. "The General Validity of the Law of Comparative Advantage," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 941-57, October.
  6. Deardorff, A.V., 1995. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade : Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," Papers 95-05, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  7. Deardorff, Alan V, 1982. "The General Validity of the Heckscher-Ohlin Theorem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(4), pages 683-94, September.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Debaere, P., 1998. ""Endowments Do Matter" Relative Factor Abundance and Trade," Working Papers 429, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  11. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Comparative Advantage, Trade, and Payments in a Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 823-39, December.
  12. Davis, D.R. & Weinstein, D.E., 1999. "An Account of Global Factor Trade," Working Papers 435, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  13. Bergstrand, Jeffrey H, 1989. "The Generalized Gravity Equation, Monopolistic Competition, and the Factor-Proportions Theory in International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 71(1), pages 143-53, February.
  14. Dalia Hakura, 1999. "A Test of the General Validity of the Heckscher-Ohlin Theorem for Trade in the European Community," IMF Working Papers 99/70, International Monetary Fund.
  15. V. Deardorff, Alan, 2001. "Trade and Welfare Implications of Networks," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 16, pages 485-499.
  16. James E. Rauch, 2001. "Business and Social Networks in International Trade," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1177-1203, December.
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