Corruption, foreign aid, and international trade

Salman Bahoo, Ilan Alon, Josanco Floreani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Corruption has varying effects on international trade flows. Through the lenses of the institutional and transaction costs theories, we propose a novel institutional analysis of foreign aid as a formal institution that moderates the negative impact of corruption on international trade. We investigate this framework using a sample of the imports and exports of 30 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries and their 150 trading partners from 1995 to 2018. We analyze two main types of bilateral foreign aid within this framework: official development assistance and aid for trade. We present three main findings. First, the trading partners' corruption has a negative impact on OECD bilateral imports and exports. Second, both forms of foreign aid moderate the negative effect of the trading partners' corruption on OECD countries' exports. These findings confirm that OECD member countries are willing to export to very corrupt countries. Third, official development assistance does not moderate the relationship between corruption and imports, meaning that OECD countries do not import from corrupt locations. However, aid for trade still moderates the negative impact of corruption on OCED countries' imports. Overall, we confirm that foreign aid negatively moderates the adverse effect of corruption on exports but not on imports. Thus, foreign aid as a formal institution deserves more attention from OECD policymakers and managers of MNEs as a mechanism for reducing corruption and boosting international trade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-167
Number of pages29
JournalThunderbird International Business Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • OECD
  • aid for trade
  • corruption
  • foreign aid
  • institutional theory
  • international trade
  • official development assistance
  • transaction costs theory


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