Trade and infrastructure: evidences from the Andean Community
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This paper presents evidence on the key role of infrastructure in the Andean Community trade patterns. Three distinct but related gravity models of bilateral trade are used. The first model aims at identifying the importance of the Preferential Trade Agreement and adjacency on intra-regional trade, while also checking the traditional roles of economic size and distance. The second and third models also assess the evolution of the Trade Agreement and the importance of sharing a common border, but their main goal is to analyze the relevance of including infrastructure in the augmented gravity equation, testing the theoretical assumption that infrastructure endowments, by reducing trade and transport costs, reduce 'distance' between bilateral partners. Indeed, if one accepts distance as a proxy for transportation costs, infrastructure development and improvement drastically modify it. Trade liberalization eliminates most of the distortions that a protectionist tariff system imposes on international business; hence transportation costs represent nowadays a considerably larger barrier to trade than in past decades. As new trade pacts are being negotiated in the Americas, borders and old agreements will lose significance; trade among countries will be nearly without restrictions, and bilateral flows will be defined in terms of costs and competitiveness. Competitiveness, however, will only be achieved by an improvement in infrastructure services at all points in the production-distribution chain.