2009/09 LEM Working Paper Series

The Multi-Network of International Trade: A Commodity-Specific Analysis

Matteo Barigozzi, Giorgio Fagiolo, Diego Garlaschelli
Weighted directed networks; International trade network; Multi-networks; Commodity-specific trade; Econophysics

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We study the topological properties of the multi-network of commodity-specific trade relations among world countries over the 1992-2003 period, comparing them with those of the aggregate-trade network, known in the literature as the international trade network (ITN). We show that link-weight distributions of commodity-specific networks are extremely heterogeneous and (quasi) log-normality of aggregate link-weight distribution is generated as a sheer outcome of aggregation. Commodity-specific networks also display average connectivity, clustering and centrality levels very different from their aggregate counterpart. We also find that ITN complete connectivity is mainly achieved through the presence of many weak links that keep commodity-specific networks together, and that the correlation structure existing between topological statistics within each single network is fairly robust and mimics that of the aggregate network. Finally, we employ cross-commodity correlations between link weights to build taxonomies of commodities. Our results suggest that on the top of a relatively time-invariant ''intrinsic'' taxonomy (based on inherent between-commodity similarities), the roles played by different commodities in the ITN have become more and more dissimilar, possibly as the result of an increased trade specialization.

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