If sectoral trade flows obey structural gravity, countries' bilateral trade imbalances are the result of macro trade imbalances, “triangular trade”, or pairwise asymmetric trade barriers. Using data for 40 major economies and the Rest of the World, we show that large and pervasive asymmetries in trade barriers are required to account for most of the observed variation in bilateral imbalances. A dynamic quantitative trade model suggests that eliminating these asymmetries would significantly reduce bilateral (but not macro) imbalances and have sizeable impacts on welfare. We provide evidence that the asymmetries we measure are in part related to the policy environment: trade inside the European Single Market appears to be subject to more bilaterally symmetric frictions. Extending the same symmetry to all parts of the global economy would give a large boost to the real incomes of several non-E.U. countries.
Thorsten Beck, Mathilde Janfils, and Mr. Kangni R Kpodar
This paper uses data across 365 corridors to document time and country variation in remittance fees and explore factors predicting variation in remittance fees. We document a general reduction in such fees over the past decade although the goal of fees below 3 percent has not been met yet in many corridors. We identify both cost- and risk-based constraints and market structure as barriers to lower remittance fees. Higher transaction costs as result of a more rural population in the sending country and lower scale are associated with higher remittance fees. However, lower risks due to the stability of fixed exchange rates and Internet rather than cash payment are associated with lower remittance fees. Finally, remittance corridors dominated by banks and few players are characterized by higher fees.
We analyze the impact of trade policy uncertainty on investment in the euro area. Our identification strategy assumes that countries that are relatively more dependent on global trade networks exhibit a higher sensitivity of investment with respect to trade uncertainty. We find that the investment-to-GDP ratio is on average 0.8 percentage points lower for five quarters following a one standard deviation increase in the level of trade uncertainty. We demonstrate that these results are unlikely to be driven by omitted variables and that they are robust to different measures of trade uncertainty and trade openness. Our analysis suggests that the detrimental effect of trade tensions goes beyond lower trade growth, as uncertainty can reduce investment and the economy’s long-term growth potential.