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The Role of Distance in Determining International Transport Costs: Evidence from Philippine Import Data

Discussion Papers


April 2006


This paper presents an empirical investigation of the appropriateness of distance as a determinant of international transport costs by using Philippine import data. This study addresses three specific questions. First, does distance really matter in the determination of transport costs? Second, if distance is a significant factor, what is the magnitude of its impact? Third, does the impact of distance on transport costs vary by commodity?
Results indicate that while distance is important in determining transport costs, using distance alone as the proxy of international transport costs is insufficient, and such use underestimates the impact of distance on international transport costs. Results also indicate that the impact of distance varies across commodity groups, but it is difficult to precisely determine the direction and the magnitude of this impact.

Keywords: transport costs, distance, trade
JEL classification: F14, L91

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Please note that discussion papers are works in various stages of progress and most have not been edited and proofread and may contain errors of fact or judgment. Revised versions of these papers may subsequently appear in more formal publication series. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s). The IDE does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included and accepts no responsibility for any consequences arising from its use.