There are two strands of approaches gauging bilateral trade barriers: the gravity models and the trade intensity index. This paper integrates these two approaches by developing a new trade intensity index. This so called “gravity model adjusted trade intensity” (GMATI) index can reflect the short run trade barriers while controlling for the long run ones under global trade context. Based on 182 countries’ export data during 1988–2005, we first estimate the expected bilateral trade level using a gravity model with comparative advantage effects. Then we apply the GMATI index for China. While the conventional trade intensity index shows that China trades less than its expected level, our GMATI index nevertheless suggests the opposite in most cases. It indicates that after considering the effect of country characteristics such as distance, economic size and comparative advantage, China’s world trade face less trade barriers than the world average level.
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