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The Economic Effectiveness of Diplomatic Representation: An Economic Analysis of its Contribution to Bilateral Trade

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This article empirically investigates the contribution of different forms of diplomatic representation to the bilateral trade flows (both exports and imports) of a group of 63 countries. The authors report on the construction of a data set that covers 10,524 diplomatic representations. They use these representations as one of the explanatory variables in an applied trade model (the gravity model) for 3,730 bilateral trade flows in order to measure to what extent these representations are economically effective, in the sense that they are associated with larger trade flows. The authors distinguish different forms of international representation in the field of economic diplomacy (such as honorary and career consulates, embassies and embassy branches, and trade and other offices) and find positive and highly significant effects for embassies but mixed results for the other forms of representation. Finally, the authors provide a comparative perspective on the effectiveness of the 63 countries’ foreign services and classify the countries according to the average performance of their network of foreign representations.


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