Evaluating the effects of language on international trade in MENA countries: A gravity-model approach

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Published Nov 4, 2021
Fatemeh Rahimzadeh
Bahman P. Ebrahimi


Prior studies have investigated the role of economic and noneconomic variables on international trade. A major factor, which has been studied less, is the language used in transactions and negotiations. We explore the effects of language connectedness and the Arabic language on international trade in thirteen countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. We used a panel of bilateral data and gravity model for the countries of the region over the 2000 to 2018 period. Our analytic technique was the Poisson pseudo-maximum-likelihood (PPML) estimation method. The empirical outcomes indicate that speaking Arabic leads to an increase in export, that is, Arab nations prefer to export to the countries whose people speak their language. In addition, the language connectedness index, which depends on the extent to which the country's languages are spoken outside the country, is positively associated with the levels of exports and imports. Results further show that the GDP, population of the destination country, and political co-stability have significant positive impacts on the bilateral exports. Additionally, GDP, the population of the source country, political co-stability, and a common border have had significant positive influences on bilateral imports. The major contribution of this research is that the Arabic language has a significant and positive impact on trade among MENA countries.

How to Cite

Rahimzadeh, F., & Ebrahimi, B. P. (2021). Evaluating the effects of language on international trade in MENA countries: A gravity-model approach. Journal of Research in Emerging Markets, 3(4), 48–62. https://doi.org/10.30585/jrems.v3i4.696
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Article Details


International trade, Arabic language, language connectedness, gravity model, PPML



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