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Applying the gravity approach to sector trade: Who bears the trade costs?

  • Angela Cheptea
  • Alexandre Gohin
  • Marilyne Huchet Bourdon

Thanks to its empirical success, the gravity approach is widely used to explain trade patterns between countries. In this article we question the simple application of this approach to product/sector-level trade on two grounds. First, we demonstrate that the traditional Armington version of gravity must be altered to properly account for the fact that sector expenditures are not strictly equal to sector productions because some trade costs are incurred outside the sector of interest. Secondly, we test empirically the mis-measurement of the expenditures with both Armington (1969) and Helpman and Krugman (1985) approaches. We estimate trade flows and prices simultaneously with non linear techniques. Underestimated expenditure levels yield biased values of model parameters.

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Paper provided by INRA UMR SMART in its series Working Papers SMART - LERECO with number 11-01.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:rae:wpaper:201101
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.rennes.inra.fr/smart_eng/Working-Papers-SMART-LERECO
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  1. 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.
  2. Paul S. Armington, 1969. "A Theory of Demand for Products Distinguished by Place of Production (Une théorie de la demande de produits différenciés d'après leur origine) (Una teoría de la demanda de productos distinguiénd," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 16(1), pages 159-178, March.
  3. Helene Erkel-Rousse & Daniel Mirza, 2000. "Import Price-Elastcities: Reconsidering the Evidence," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0909, Econometric Society.
  4. David Hummels & James Levinsohn, 1993. "Monopolistic Competition and International Trade: Reconsidering the Evidence," NBER Working Papers 4389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Bruno Henry de Frahan & Mark Vancauteren, 2006. "Harmonisation of food regulations and trade in the Single Market: evidence from disaggregated data," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 33(3), pages 337-360, September.
  8. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2007. "Do free trade agreements actually increase members' international trade?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 72-95, March.
  9. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2001. "The growth of world trade: tariffs, transport costs, and income similarity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 1-27, February.
  10. Richard Baldwin & Daria Taglioni, 2006. "Gravity for Dummies and Dummies for Gravity Equations," NBER Working Papers 12516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Baldwin, Richard, 2007. "Trade Effects of the Euro: a Comparison of Estimators," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 22, pages 780-818.
  12. Jon Haveman & David Hummels, 2004. "Alternative hypotheses and the volume of trade: the gravity equation and the extent of specialization," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 37(1), pages 199-218, February.
  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. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  15. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 593, Boston College Department of Economics.
  16. Egger, Peter, 2004. "On the Problem of Endogenous Unobserved Effects in the Estimation of Gravity Models," Journal of Economic Integration, Center for Economic Integration, Sejong University, vol. 19, pages 182-191.
  17. Harrigan, James, 1996. "Openness to trade in manufactures in the OECD," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1-2), pages 23-39, February.
  18. Wilson, John S. & Tsunehiro Otsuki, 2002. "To spray or not to spray? - pesticides, banana exports, and food safety," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2805, The World Bank.
  19. Keith Head & John Ries, 2001. "Increasing Returns versus National Product Differentiation as an Explanation for the Pattern of U.S.-Canada Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 858-876, September.
  20. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  21. Balistreri, Edward J. & Hillberry, Russell H., 2007. "Structural estimation and the border puzzle," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 451-463, July.
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