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Demand elasticities in international trade : are they really low?

  • Shah, Shekhar
  • Mishra, Deepak
  • Panagariya, Arvind

The authors analyze the U.S. demandfor Bangladeshi imports for products restricted under the Multifiber Arrangement. Because Bangladesh is only a small supplier of these products and Latin American and Asian countries can supply close substitutes, the authors expected a high elasticity of demand for Bangladeshi imports, and they found consistently high estimates based on statistically significant coefficients. Their finding accords with trade theorists'prejudice that small countries can essentially behave as price takers, but conflicts with the empirical literature view that demand elasticities are low, rarely exceeding 3 and generally between 1 and 2. The authors'analysis differs from the existing literature in three ways: they derive a set of estimation equations from an explicit, utility-maximization model and use the estimated parameters of the utility function to obtain the Marshallian own-price and cross-price elasticities as well as the income elasticity of demand; they take explicit account of U.S. imports from competitors of Bangladesh, relying directly on competitors'prices; and they use highly disaggregated data that make the unit value of exports a better proxy for price than using aggregated export data commonly used in this literature. The authors outline their theoretical model for deriving their estimated equations in Section 1; preliminarily determine who Bangladesh's competitors are in Section 2; and estimate the demand equation derived in Section 1, and derive the price and income elasticities facing Bangladesh in Section 3.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1712.

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Date of creation: 31 Dec 1996
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1712
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  1. Goldstein, Morris & Khan, Mohsin S., 1985. "Income and price effects in foreign trade," Handbook of International Economics, in: R. W. Jones & P. B. Kenen (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 20, pages 1041-1105 Elsevier.
  2. Dean, Judith M, 1990. "The Effects of the U.S. MFA on Small Exporters," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(1), pages 63-69, February.
  3. Premachandra Athukorala & James Riedel, 1991. "The small country assumption: A reassessment with evidence from Korea," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 138-151, March.
  4. Trela, I. & Whalley, J., 1989. "Unravelling The Threads Of The Mfa," University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations Working Papers 8904c, University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations.
  5. Panagariya, A. & Quibria, M.G. & Rao, N., 1996. "The Emerging Global Trading Environment and Developing Asia," Papers 55, Asian Development Bank.
  6. 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.
  7. Ghose, Devajyoti & Kharas, Homi, 1993. "International competitiveness, the demand for exports and real effective exchange rates in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 377-398, August.
  8. Winters, L. Alan, 1984. "Separability and the specification of foreign trade functions," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3-4), pages 239-263, November.
  9. Muscatelli, Vito Antonio & Srinivasan, T G & Vines, David, 1992. "Demand and Supply Factors in the Determination of NIE Exports: A Simultaneous Error-Correction Model for Hong Kong Exports," CEPR Discussion Papers 671, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Riedel, James, 1988. "The Demand for LDC Exports of Manufactures: Estimates from Hong Kong," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(389), pages 138-48, March.
  11. Goldstein, Morris & Khan, Mohsin S, 1978. "The Supply and Demand for Exports: A Simultaneous Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 275-86, May.
  12. Riedel, James, 1989. "The Demand for LDC Exports of Manufactures: Estimates from Hong Kong: A Rejoinder," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 467-70, June.
  13. Nguyen, D T, 1989. "The Demand for LDC Exports of Manufactures: Estimates from Hong Kong: A Comment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(396), pages 461-66, June.
  14. Lucas, Robert E. B., 1988. "Demand for India's manufactured exports," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 63-75, July.
  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.
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