Institutions, Infrastructure and Trade

41 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2007

See all articles by Joseph F. Francois

Joseph F. Francois

University of Bern - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Vienna Institute of International Economic Studies (WIIW); University of Adelaide - School of Economics

Miriam Manchin

Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano; University College London

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2007


We work with a panel of bilateral trade flows from 1988 to 2002, exploring the influence of infrastructure, institutional quality, colonial and geographic context, and trade preferences on the pattern of bilateral trade. We are interested in threshold effects, and so emphasize those cases where bilateral country pairs do not actually trade. We depart from the institutions and infrastructure literature in this respect, using selection-based gravity modeling of trade flows. We also depart from this literature by mixing principal components (to condense our institutional and infrastructure measures) with a focus on deviations from expected values for given income cohorts to control for multicollinearity. Infrastructure, and institutional quality, are significant determinants not only of export levels, but also of the likelihood exports will take place at all. Our results support the notion that export performance, and the propensity to take part in the trading system at all, depends on institutional quality and access to well developed transport and communications infrastructure. Indeed, this dependence is far more important, empirically, than variations in tariffs in explaining sample variations in North-South trade. This implies that policy emphasis on developing country market access, instead of support for trade facilitation, may be misplaced.

Keywords: Exports, gravity model, infrastructure, institutions, trade, zero-trade

JEL Classification: F10, F15

Suggested Citation

Francois, Joseph F and Manchin, Miriam and Manchin, Miriam, Institutions, Infrastructure and Trade (January 2007). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 6068, Available at SSRN:

Joseph F Francois (Contact Author)

University of Bern - Department of Economics ( email )

Schanzeneckstrasse 1
Bern, CH-3001

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

Vienna Institute of International Economic Studies (WIIW) ( email )

Oppolzergasse 6
A-1010 Vienna

University of Adelaide - School of Economics ( email )

Adelaide SA, 5005
+61 8 8303 5540 (Phone)
+61 8 8223 1460 (Fax)

Miriam Manchin

Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano ( email )

Via Conservatorio 7
Milan, 20122

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

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