- In a glance. I am interested in the broad field of development and international economics. My work is often focused on the application of economic theory and touches real-world problems. Hence, my research is interdisciplinary and I make use of methodologies that cross disciplines. The research fields I am interested in include, but are not limited to, the following: development economics, international trade, economic geography, network analysis and its applications, value-chain analysis, small and regional economies and international economics in general.
- Post-doctoral research. As a post-doctoral research fellow, I worked on the structure and growth of international trade and its implications for economic development in collaboration with Professor Stefano Schiavo and Massimo Riccaboni. We model international trade as a network where trade flows are assumed to grow as a geometric Brownian motion and new trade links follow a preferential attachment mechanism (Barabasi and Albert, 1999), and these two processes are assumed to be independent. This simple set-up accurately describes many of the empirical features that characterize the structure and growth of the international trade network such as the large share of zeros in trade. Furthermore, it reconciles diverging views of industrial policy in the economic development literature: the Hausmann and Rodrik (2003) versus Easterly et al. (2009) literature. We argue that despite the fact that export is very concentrated so that large bilateral flows are rare, countries characterized by a large number of export relations are more likely to capture such big hits. We argue that a stochastic model provides a benchmark against which one can assess countries export performance. We then investigate the determinants of the deviation of empirical data from the predictions of the model in terms of the number of big hits.
Here is a draft of the paper Trade network dynamics and economic development. Please do not cite.
- My interest in economic development and developing countries is well-reflected in my doctoral research. I worked on the economic development of a unique grouping of islands, small remote island economies (SRIEs), that have not previously been addressed in a systematic way in the economics literature. The rationale behind this categorisation lies in the interactions of smallness, islandness and remoteness that might exacerbate the problems which these features give rise, and possibly might create new opportunities for these countries. Smallness presents challenges that impact on economic progress. Indeed, Kuznets emphasised the size concept when he noted that, in principle, small countries are under a greater handicap than large in the task of economic growth (Kuznets, 1960). Many small countries are also island countries. Island economies have received less attention in the size-growth debate although islandness per se implies challenges and opportunities that go beyond size. Islands feature a variety of economic, socio-cultural, political, and geographical characteristics: consider small and large islands, oceanic and continental islands, resource-rich and resource-poor islands, and autonomous and dependent islands. Many islands are geographically remote from the world economo-political centres. Economists have debated and investigated, using gravity models, the negative effects of distance on economic relations (Anderson and van Wincoop, 2004; Disdier and Head, 2008). Many scholars recognize that the remoteness or peripheral aspect of islands matters (Briguglio, 1995; McGillivray et al., 2008; Read, 2008). However, there is little research that investigates the impacts of remoteness on the diverse sectoral or socio-economic problems faced by island economies.
- Although SRIEs are primarily agriculturally-based, policies of diversication and, more importantly, trade preferences have allowed them to develop a manufacturing sector. Trade liberalisation aects SRIEs since they are necessarily open economies with a high ratio of international trade to GDP. In a working paper, I used network analysis, a novel methodology as regards trade, to investigate the impacts of trade liberalisation, that is, the elimination of the multibre agreement (MFA), on the textiles and clothing (T&C) sector of SRIEs. As hypothesised, network analysis reveals that the MFA in influenced the geography of T&C manufacturing and altered the pattern of network formation. In the post-liberalisation period, SRIEs preferred to trade with closer partners, thus, remoteness/distance remains a signicant determinant of economic performance. The network of textile products is less dense and more stable than that of clothing. On a global stance, post-MFA trade in T&C declined but there is a strong indication of convergence.
- Another stream of my research investigates hypotheses emanating the global value chain framework (Gereffi, 1999). I analysed individual cases of SRIEs and showed that T&C global fragmentation of production was shaped by quotas. The distance eect is also evidenced here where trade with relatively remote partners declined post-MFA. I argued that SRIEs that survived following liberalisation moved up the value-chain or upgraded to maintain competitiveness. Upgrading involved shifting to higher-valued products and niche markets but also integrating regionally.
- Further research provided an alternative explanation for the notion of distance or remoteness, particularly when viewed from a tourism perspective by making use of standard and less standard econometric tools. Scholars agree that nature attracts tourists. An exploratory analysis shows that SRIEs are well-endowed in nature. Indeed, the econometric results show that remoteness is positively associated with tourism performance (Sufrauj, 2011). Click here for the paper “Islandness and Remoteness as Resources: Evidence from the Tourism Performance of Small Remote Island Economies (SRIES)”.