Infrastructure and Trade

This paper explores the role that quality of infrastructure has on a country's trade performance, estimating a gravity model that incorporates bilateral tariffs and a number of indicators for the quality of infrastructure. The paper looks at the impact of the quality of infrastructure (road, airport, port and telecommunication, and the time required for customs clearance) on total bilateral trade and on trade in the automotive, clothing and textile sectors. In order to obtain unbiased estimators, multilateral resistances for tariffs and remoteness are introduced in the gravity equation. Moreover, the robustness of the results is tested by estimating a fixed-effect model, where bilateral indexes of the quality of infrastructure are included. The results can be summarised in four main findings: (i) bilateral tariffs, generally neglected in gravity regression of bilateral flows, have a significant negative impact on trade; (ii) quality of infrastructure is an important determinant of trade performance; (iii) port efficiency appears to have the largest impact on trade among all indicators of infrastructure; (iv) timeliness and access to telecommunication are relatively more important for export competitiveness in the clothing and automotive sector respectively.

No: ERSD-2004-04


Hildegunn Kyvik Nordås and Roberta Piermartini — WTO

Manuscript date: August 2004

Key Words

trade, infrastructure, gravity model, resistance terms, tariffs

JEL classification numbers  

F13, F17

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This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of individual staff members or visiting scholars, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, nor the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the authors. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, rue de Lausanne 154, CH 1211 Genève 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

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