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Is distance a good proxy for transport costs? The case of competing transport modes

  • Martínez-Zarzoso, Inmaculada
  • Nowak-Lehmann D., Felicitas

In this paper, we analyze separately the determinants of maritime transport and road transport costs for Spanish exports to Poland and Turkey (markets for which maritime and road transport are competing modes) and investigate the different effects of these costs on international trade. First, we investigate the extent to which maritime and road transport costs depend on different factors such as unit values, distances, transport conditions, service structures, and service quality. Second, we analyze the relative importance of road and maritime transport costs in comparison with distance measures as determinants of trade flows. The main results of this investigation indicate that real distance is not a good proxy for transportation costs and identify the central variables influencing road and maritime transportation costs: for both modes, transport conditions are strong determinants, whereas efficiency and service quality are more important for maritime transport costs, and geographical distance is more important for road transport. Road and maritime transport costs are central explanatory factors of exports and they seem to deter trade to a greater extent than road or maritime transit time when endogeneity is considered.

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Paper provided by University of Goettingen, Department of Economics in its series Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers with number 54.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:cegedp:54
Contact details of provider: Postal: Platz der Göttinger Sieben 3, 37073 Göttingen
Web page: http://www.cege.wiso.uni-goettingen.de/

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  1. Alan Deardorff, 1998. "Determinants of Bilateral Trade: Does Gravity Work in a Neoclassical World?," NBER Chapters, in: The Regionalization of the World Economy, pages 7-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  3. I Mart�nez-Zarzoso & L Garc�a-Men�ndez & C Su�rez-Burguet, 2003. "Impact of Transport Costs on International Trade: The Case of Spanish Ceramic Exports," Maritime Economics and Logistics, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 5(2), pages 179-198, June.
  4. Pierre-Philippe Combes & Miren Lafourcade, 2005. "Transport costs: measures, determinants, and regional policy implications for France," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 319-349, June.
  5. Ricardo J S�nchez & Jan Hoffmann & Alejandro Micco & Georgina V Pizzolitto & Mart�n Sgut & Gordon Wilmsmeier, 2003. "Port Efficiency and International Trade: Port Efficiency as a Determinant of Maritime Transport Costs," Maritime Economics and Logistics, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 5(2), pages 199-218, June.
  6. Frankel, Jeffrey & Stein, Ernesto & Wei, Shang-jin, 1995. "Trading blocs and the Americas: The natural, the unnatural, and the super-natural," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 61-95, June.
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