What constrains Africa’s exports ? (with Caroline Freund)

This paper examines the effects of transit, documentation, and ports and customs delays on Africa’s exports. The authors 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 to a 1.5 percentage point decrease in all importing-country tariffs. By contrast, longer delays in the other areas have a far smaller impact on trade. The analysis controls for the possibility that greater trade leads to shorter delays in three ways. First, it examines the effect of trade times on exports of new products. Second, it evaluates the effect of delays in a transit country on the exports of landlocked countries. Third, it examines whether delays affect time-sensitive goods relatively more. The authors show that large transit delays are relatively more harmful because of high within-country variation.

The full paper can be downloaded here