In his article "death of distance‟, Caincross (1997) challenged the orthodoxy with regard to the
role and direction of proximity in international trade. The mainstream model for trade analysis,
the gravity model has only two prominent determinants – one of which is distance. But while this
theory predicts a negative impact of distance on trade, empirical evidence seems to be evenly
split between those finding a positive and those finding a negative impact of distance on trade.
South Africa‟s total exports to three groups of countries at different distances are measured to
determine the impact of distance. The results indicate that distance shows a negative sign when
African countries are concerned but turns positive when European countries, even more distant,
enter the equation.