Emine Boz, Nan Li, Hongrui Zhang, 28 February 2019

It is commonly observed that economies specialising in sectors, such as services, that face relatively high trade costs tend to run current account deficits, while those specialising in more easily tradable sectors tend to run surpluses. This column tests the causality of this observation by constructing a measure of effective trade costs. Results show that although higher effective exporting costs are associated with lower current account balances, the impact of those costs is quantitatively limited. The findings suggest that the contribution of trade costs to observed global imbalances has been modest.

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