The exchange rate, income, trade openness and the trade balance: longitudinal panel analysis for selected SSA countries

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Abille A. B., Meçik O.

International Trade, Politics and Development , vol.0, no.0, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)



Motivated by recent rapid exchange rate depreciations, shrank economic growth, high inflation, and persistent trade deficits, this study examines the trade balance (TB) in the face of the recent dynamics of the stated macroeconomic factors, which are also important determinants of the TB. The symmetric test of the J-curve phenomenon for the selected Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries is revisited in this regard. The study uses panel data from 1970 to 2020 for ten of these countries for the longitudinal panel analysis with the TB as the dependent variable and the real exchange rate, foreign and domestic national incomes, and trade openness as the set of independent variables.


Because the underlying data set involves a heterogeneous panel of relatively short N and long T, the pooled mean group (PMG) and mean group (MG) heterogeneous panel models are employed based on the Hausman test for parameter consistency in heterogeneous panels.


The findings largely support the domestic income growth– TB worsening and the foreign income growth– TB improvement hypotheses. Trade openness is found to mostly augment the TB performance of the countries. The results also validated the J-curve effect for only 3/10 and 2/10 countries in the PMG and MG models, respectively. The divergence for most of the countries is attributed to possible import compression and institutional structure of SSA countries.

Practical implications

Given the favorable effects of trade openness on the TB performance of SSA countries, it is recommended that SSA countries place much emphasis on import-substitution industrialization and value addition to their natural resources as well as investment-driven growth policies to improve the competitiveness of their exports and reverse the chronic deficits in their TBs.


This paper is unique for invoking heterogeneous panel models to analyze the TB in light of recent dynamics of its determinants, as well as providing an update on the symmetric test of the J-curve phenomenon for the selected SSA countries.