Electricity as a traded good  [2013]

Srinivasan, Sunderasan

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Electric power has traditionally been classified as a non-traded good, produced and consumed within the country of origin. More recently, electricity has been traded across national borders and in certain cases, viz., Bhutan, has been the dominant export; in other situations, it is used to repay debts owed to neighboring countries. This paper investigates the role of electricity as the primary export, analyzes its valuation, and then goes on to evaluate the impact on the terms of trade. We conclude that in the medium-term, the electric power exporting economy would be better off developing its manufacturing sector to diversify its exposure and to protect its trade interests. The case of Bhutanese hydro-electricity exports to India is studied and the change in trade advantage with every increase in power tariff is ascertained. It is found that a 1.26% annual increase in (non-food) consumer prices is correlated with a 1% increase in electricity export tariff. While the causality from electric power tariff to Indian manufactures prices is not established statistically, a change in manufactures prices feeding back into consumer prices in Bhutan is statistically significant. Suggestions are offered for Bhutan to reduce dependence on Indian imports and to diversify its export market exposure.

Other subjects

  • markets
  • imports
  • exports
  • manufacturing
  • electricity
  • prices
  • electric power
  • tariffs

From the journal

Energy policy

ISSN : 0301-4215