Competitive effects of low trade barriers: evaluations for the Kaliningrad region
International trade is an important factor affecting competition in domestic markets. Considering the vastness of Russian territory, one can expect the pro-competitive effect to vary from region to region. This analysis tests the hypothesis that the unique geographical position and economic status of the Kaliningrad region contribute to the rapid development of international trade, which, in turn, exerts competitive pressure on regional prices. The study incorporates two major lines of analysis: a) a comparison of the international trade growth rates of different Russian regions; b) an assessment of the influence of Russian and European prices on the consumer price index as well as prices for particular tradable goods in the Kaliningrad region. Rosstat and Eurostat serve as the main data sources. To test their hypothesis, the authors use the methods of statistical and econometric analysis. The status of the free economic zone and unique geographic position of the Kaliningrad region do not result in high growth rates of international trade in the region, but rather lead to a structural shift towards import thus exerting additional competitive pressure on domestic prices. The analysis did not confirm the hypothesis about the considerable influence of European prices on the short run dynamics of the regional consumer prices index or prices for certain imported goods. Nevertheless, indirect evidence of competitive effects of foreign trade was found in the course of a comparative analysis of price levels in the regions of the Northwest Federal district: the cost of the standard set of consumer goods and services in the Kaliningrad region is lower than the level defined by the regional per capita income.
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