Politicians travel extensively abroad, for various reasons. One purpose of
external visits is to improve bilateral economic relations. In this paper, I
examine the effect of state visits on international trade. I use a large data
set covering the travel activities of the heads of state of France, Germany
and the United States between 1948 and 2003. My results indicate that state
and official visits are indeed positively correlated with exports. A typical
visit is associated with higher bilateral exports by about 8 to 10 per cent,
holding other things constant.