Quantifying the full impact of country-specific policies on trade flows

Rebecca Freeman, Mario Larch, Angelos Theodorakopoulos and Yoto V Yotov

Most economists rely upon the structural gravity model as a best tool to analyse the impact of trade policies on bilateral trade flows. However, while the gravity model is well suited to examine the impact of bilateral trade costs – such as tariffs imposed by exporter-importer pairs – it is poorly equipped to estimate the impact of country-specific policies because standard controls subsume their effects. This is problematic, as in practice many policy-relevant trade costs are country-specific. This post proposes a solution to this problem and discusses new methods to identify the full impact of country-specific characteristics within the structural gravity framework. A useful byproduct of our methods is that they deliver disaggregate trade elasticity estimates without the need for price/tariff data.

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