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The Trade Reducing Effects of Market Power in International Shipping

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  • David Hummels
  • Volodymyr Lugovskyy
  • Alexandre Skiba

Abstract

Developing countries pay substantially higher transportation costs than developed nations, which leads to less trade and perhaps lower incomes. This paper investigates price discrimination in the shipping industry and the role it plays in determining transportation costs. In the presence of market power, shipping prices depend on the demand characteristics of goods being traded. We show theoretically and estimate empirically that shipping firms charge higher prices when transporting goods with higher product prices, lower import demand elasticities, and higher tariffs, and when facing fewer competitors on a trade route. These characteristics explain more variation in shipping prices than do conventional proxies such as distance, and significantly contribute to the higher shipping prices facing the developing world. Markups increase shipping prices by at least 83 percent for the mean shipment in Latin American imports. Our findings are also important for evaluating the impact of tariff liberalization. Shipping firms decrease prices by 1-2 percent for every 1 percent reduction in tariffs.

Suggested Citation

  • David Hummels & Volodymyr Lugovskyy & Alexandre Skiba, 2007. "The Trade Reducing Effects of Market Power in International Shipping," NBER Working Papers 12914, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12914
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David L. Hummels & Georg Schaur, 2013. "Time as a Trade Barrier," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(7), pages 2935-2959, December.
    2. Wilmsmeier, Gordon & Hoffmann, Jan & Sanchez, Ricardo J., 2006. "The Impact of Port Characteristics on International Maritime Transport Costs," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 117-140, January.
    3. Carsten Fink & Aaditya Mattoo & Ileana Cristina Neagu, 2002. "Trade in International Maritime Services: How Much Does Policy Matter?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 16(1), pages 81-108, June.
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    5. Perloff,Jeffrey M. & Karp,Larry S. & Golan,Amos, 2007. "Estimating Market Power and Strategies," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521011143, Fall.
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    7. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2004. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1384-1402, December.
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    9. Feenstra, Robert C, 1994. "New Product Varieties and the Measurement of International Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 157-177, March.
    10. Alexandre Skiba, 2007. "Regional Economies of Scale in Transportation and Regional Welfare," WORKING PAPERS SERIES IN THEORETICAL AND APPLIED ECONOMICS 200705, University of Kansas, Department of Economics, revised Sep 2007.
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    12. Redding, Stephen & Venables, Anthony J., 2004. "Economic geography and international inequality," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82, January.
    13. Bruce A. Blonigen & Wesley Wilson, 2006. "New Measures of Port Efficiency Using International Trade Data," NBER Working Papers 12052, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • L91 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Transportation: General
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations

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