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Book Project


Borders, Trade & Trust

Events of recent years have punctuated the central importance of border governance both in domestic and international political discourse. As countries faced a global pandemic, increased global trade and several militarized interstate disputes, the ways in which neighbor states mutually govern shared borders molds the possible policy choices for state responses. I argue that our understanding of the consequences of border institutions on trade has not grappled with the complexities of 21st century trade. Border regimes do not just augment the total amount of trade between neighbors, but also fundamentally shape the variety and composition of goods traded between states. Previous scholarship has in turn linked the variety and composition of the portfolio of goods a country trades to the quality of the information environment between the countries and the interconnectedness of networks of traders. I develop the argument that border institutions impact trust in the information shared in cross-border economic relationships that in turn shape what is traded between neighbors. Using a mixed-methods approach, this book demonstrates that neighboring states with unsettled border disputes trade in a smaller variety of goods relative to other contiguous states and the contents of this trade is shaped by perceptions of risk. On the other hand, settling border disputes is associated with increased trade in goods that require trusted cross-border information networks to be traded. This book provides new insights into the ways that border politics can condition the investment into trade relations predicated on trust. International borders are not just lines on a map but are institutions that regulate the flows of information necessary for the trade in some commodities to occur. Further, this book highlights that what is traded is essential to understanding the political-economic relationships between states.