WTO Working Papers

WTO working papers usually represent research in progress. Such research may be conducted in the preparation of WTO Secretariat reports, studies or other material for WTO members. The papers are circulated for comment because the WTO considers critical review of professional research to be extremely important.


What Constrains Africa's Exports?

We examine the effects of transit, documentation, and ports and customs delays on Africa’s exports. We find that transit delays have the most economically and statically significant effect on exports. A one day reduction in inland travel times leads to a 7 percent increase in exports. Put another way, a one day reduction in inland travel times translates into 1.5 percentage point decrease in all importing-country tariffs. In contrast, longer delays in the other areas have a far smaller impact on trade. We control for the possibility that greater trade leads to shorter delays in three ways. First, we examine the effect of trade times on exports of new products. Second, we evaluate the effect of delays in a transit country on the exports of landlocked countries. Third, we examine whether delays affect time-sensitive goods relatively more. We show that large transit delays are relatively more harmful because of high within-country variation.


Keywords: transit delays, gravity models, export times, trade facilitation
JEL: F13: International Economics / Trade / Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations; F14: International Economics / Trade / Empirical Studies of Trade; O55: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economywide Country Studies / Economywide Country Studies: Africa
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