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The Puzzle of the Missing Greek Exports

Author(s): Uwe Böwer, Vasiliki Michou, Christoph Ungerer

The Puzzle of the Missing Greek Exportspdf(579 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

Summary for non-specialistspdf(47 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

Why is Greece such a surprisingly closed economy? We employ a gravity model of trade to explain the appallingly poor export performance of Greece and argue that weak institutional quality accounts for a large part of this shortfall. Using a rich dataset of bilateral value-added exports of goods and services of 39 exporters and 56 importers for 18 sectors, we first estimate that Greece exports ⅓ less than what regular international trade patterns would predict on basis of Greek GDP, the size of its trading partners and geographical distance. This ranks Greece at the 31st position out of 39 export countries in the competitiveness ranking we construct based on our regressions. The most affected sectors include electrical equipment and machinery while transport, tourism and agriculture perform relatively favourable. We then augment our model with various measures of institutional quality and find that weak institutions can explain much of the missing Greek exports puzzle. We estimate that structural reforms improving the Greek institutional framework to the EU/OECD average level would close between ½ and ¾ of the Greek export gap. These findings suggest that, while Greece has already achieved major improvements in cost competitiveness since the start of the Greek adjustment programme, structural reforms must also address non-cost competitiveness factors, such as the underlying institutional deficits, to unlock Greece's export growth potential.

(European Economy. Economic Papers 518. June 2014. Brussels. PDF. 40pp. Tab. Graph. Ann. Bibliogr. Free.)

KC-AI-14-518-EN-N (online)KC-AI-14-518-EN-C (print)
ISBN 978-92-79-35167-9 (online)ISBN 978-92-79-36111-1 (print)
doi: 10.2765/70035 (online)doi: 10.2765/77592 (print)

JEL classification: C23; E02; F14

Economic Papers are written by the staff of the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, or by experts working in association with them. The Papers are intended to increase awareness of the technical work being done by staff and to seek comments and suggestions for further analysis. The views expressed are the author’s alone and do not necessarily correspond to those of the European Commission.