Bilateral Relations in a Context of Geopolitical Change
Edited by Peter A.G. van Bergeijk and Selwyn J.V. Moons
Chapter 6: Trips and trade
Politicians travel abroad a lot, for various reasons. Despite technological advances (allowing for communication close to face-to-face interaction), travel activities by politicians have increased over the last few decades. The types of their trips range from formal, multi-day visits to brief logistical stop-overs, from the regular exchange of information in working meetings to ceremonial visits. Diplomatic activities are costly involving money, time and effort. As a result, and also due to a gradual shift of focus in diplomacy towards economic issues, a growing literature aims to quantify the economic benefits of such activities. The author reviews selected issues in the analysis of the economic effects of foreign travels by politicians. After highlighting possible differences in the effects dependent on the visitor’s official position, he emphasizes that only few travels, dependent on their purpose, may be economically relevant. Possible endogeneity in the choice of travel destinations is a key difficulty for identification.
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