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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. Richard Baldwin & Daria Taglioni, 2006. "Gravity for Dummies and Dummies for Gravity Equations," NBER Working Papers 12516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," NBER Working Papers 10480, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Simon J. Evenett & Wolfgang Keller, 1998. "On Theories Explaining the Success of the Gravity Equation," NBER Working Papers 6529, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Wilson, John S. & Otsuki, Tsunehiro, 2004. "To spray or not to spray: pesticides, banana exports, and food safety," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 131-146, April.
  8. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2003. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 170-192, March.
  9. 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.
  10. Hummels, David & Levinsohn, James, 1995. "Monopolistic Competition and International Trade: Reconsidering the Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 799-836, August.
  11. Harrigan, James, 1996. "Openness to trade in manufactures in the OECD," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(1-2), pages 23-39, February.
  12. 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.
  13. Anderson, James E, 1979. "A Theoretical Foundation for the Gravity Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 106-16, March.
  14. Scott L. Baier & Jeffrey H. Bergstrand, 2005. "Do free trade agreements actually increase members’ international trade?," Working Paper 2005-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. Hélène Erkel-Rousse & Daniel Mirza, 2002. "Import price elasticities: reconsidering the evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(2), pages 282-306, May.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
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