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Imports "Я" Us: Retail Chains as Platforms for Developing-Country Imports

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  • Emek Basker
  • Pham Hoang Van

Abstract

Wal-Mart, Toys "R" Us, and other large retail chains are often identified with cheap imports. We use data from the Census of Retail Trade and the International Trade Commission over the period 1997-2002 to test whether big chains serve as platforms for imports from LDCs. Using difference-in-difference specifications we show that Chinese and other LDC imports have increased disproportionately in retail sectors with the sharpest consolidation into chains. To quantify the importance of chain growth to import growth we apply a numerical algorithm that generates marginal propensities to import by firm size. The largest retail firms' propensity to import from China is 17 percentage points higher than that of smaller retailers; the corresponding difference in import propensities from LDCs as a whole is 27 points. The disproportionate growth of large retailers between 1997 and 2002 explains 5% of the overall growth in consumer goods imports, 20% of the growth in consumer goods imports from China, and 22% of the growth in consumer goods imports from LDCs..

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.100.2.414
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 100 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 414-18

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:100:y:2010:i:2:p:414-18

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.100.2.414
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References

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  1. John Romalis, 2007. "NAFTA's and CUSFTA's Impact on International Trade," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(3), pages 416-435, August.
  2. Emek Basker & Pham Hoang Van, 2007. "Wal-Mart as Catalyst to U.S.-China Trade," Working Papers 0710, Department of Economics, University of Missouri.
  3. Mark Doms & Ron Jarmin & Shawn Klimek, 2004. "Information technology investment and firm performance in US retail trade," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(7), pages 595-613.
  4. Carolyn L. Evans & James Harrigan, 2005. "Distance, Time, and Specialization: Lean Retailing in General Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 292-313, March.
  5. Ethier, Wilfred, 1979. "Internationally decreasing costs and world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-24, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Harchaoui, Tarek M., 2012. "The Europe-U.S. Retail Trade Productivity Gap in a Rear-view Mirror," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-127, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
  2. Dimitra Petropoulou, 2011. "Information costs, networks and intermediation in international trade," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 76, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2012. "Wholesalers and Retailers in U.S. Trade (Long Version)," Working Papers 12-03, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  4. Angela Cheptea & Charlotte Emlinger & Karine Latouche, 2013. "Multinational Retailers and Home Country Exports," Working Papers SMART - LERECO 13-03, INRA UMR SMART.
  5. Akerman, Anders, 2010. "A Theory on the Role of Wholesalers in International Trade based on Economies of Scope," Research Papers in Economics 2010:1, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  6. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2010. "Wholesalers and Retailers in US Trade," Working Paper Series WP10-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  7. Emily Blanchard & Tatyana Chesnokova & Gerald Willmann, 2013. "Private Labels and International Trade: Trading Variety for Volume," CESifo Working Paper Series 4133, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Horst Raff & Natalia Trofimenko, 2013. "World Market Access of Emerging-Market Firms: the Role of Foreign Ownership and Access to External Finance," Kiel Working Papers 1848, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

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