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Transport Costs and International Trade


  • Anthony J. Venables
  • Alberto Behar


The first issue we study is the impact of transport costs on the volume and nature of international trade. To what extent has the rise in international trade been driven by changes in transport costs? Why is cross-country and cross-regional experience so different? Transport costs also influence modal choice, the commodity composition of trade and the organisation of production, particularly as 'just-in-time' methods get extended to the global level. In turn, these new production methods are placing increasing demands on the transport system. The second issue is the determinants of international transport costs. There is enormous cross-country variation in transport costs and in trade costs more generally. To what extent are these determined by geography, infrastructure deficiencies or institutional barriers? Through time, the evidence is that transport costs have not fallen as much as many people might expect. We explore this paradox.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony J. Venables & Alberto Behar, 2010. "Transport Costs and International Trade," Economics Series Working Papers 488, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:488

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    1. Alberto Behar & Benjamin D. Nelson, 2014. "Trade Flows, Multilateral Resistance, and Firm Heterogeneity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 538-549, July.
    2. Tim Besley & Thiemo Fetzer & Hannes Mueller, 2012. "One Kind of Lawlessness: Estimating the Welfare Cost of Somali Piracy," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 898.12, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
    3. Groizard, José Luis & Marques, Helena & Santana, María, 2014. "Islands in trade: Disentangling distance from border effects," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 8, pages 1-46.
    4. Gilles Duranton & Peter M. Morrow & Matthew A. Turner, 2014. "Roads and Trade: Evidence from the US," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 681-724.
    5. Byron Gangnes & Ari Van Assche, 2010. "Global Production Networks in Electronics and Intra-Asian Trade," LICOS Discussion Papers 25710, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    6. 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.
    7. Abeliansky, Ana L. & Martínez-Zarzoso, Imnaculada & Prettner, Klaus, 2015. "The impact of 3D printing on trade and FDI," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 262, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    8. Pedro Albarran & Raquel Carrasco & Adelheid Holl, 2013. "Domestic transport infrastructure and firms’ export market participation," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 879-898, May.
    9. Alberto Behar & Philip Manners & Benjamin D. Nelson, 2013. "Exports and International Logistics," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 75(6), pages 855-886, December.
    10. Del Rosal Fernández, Ignacio, 2013. "Las condiciones de entrega en el comercio exterior español /Terms of Delivery in the Spanish International Trade," Estudios de Economía Aplicada, Estudios de Economía Aplicada, vol. 31, pages 249(24)-249, Enero.
    11. Volpe Martincus, Christian & Carballo, Jerónimo & Cusolito, Ana, 2017. "Roads, exports and employment: Evidence from a developing country," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 21-39.
    12. Magerman, Glenn & Studnicka, Zuzanna & Van Hove, Jan, 2016. "Distance and border effects in international trade: A comparison of estimation methods," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 10, pages 1-31.
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    14. Ozlem Yaylaci, 2012. "Evolution of Trade Costs," EcoMod2012 4267, EcoMod.
    15. Straume, Hans-Martin, 2015. "Trade costs and Norwegian salmon export," Working Papers in Economics 06/15, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    16. Timothy Besley & Thiemo Fetzer & Hannes Mueller, 2015. "The Welfare Cost Of Lawlessness: Evidence From Somali Piracy," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 203-239, April.
    17. Dreyer, Heiko, 2014. "Misaligned distance: Why distance can have a positive effect on trade in agricultural," 2014 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2014, Minneapolis, Minnesota 170455, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
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    21. Wang, He & Huang, Simin & Liu, Zhen & Zheng, Li, 2013. "Optimal tanker chartering decisions with spot freight rate dynamics considerations," Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 109-116.
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    More about this item


    Trade costs; Gravity equation; Trade infrastructure; Trade facilitation;

    JEL classification:

    • F1 - International Economics - - Trade
    • N70 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy

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