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Is China climbing up the quality ladder? Estimating cross country differences in product quality using Eurostat's COMEXT trade database

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  • Pula, Gabor
  • Santabárbara, Daniel

Abstract

There is an ongoing debate in the literature about the quality content of Chinese exports and to what extent China imposes a threat to the market positions of advanced economies. While China’s export structure is very similar to that of the advanced world, its export unit values are well below the level of developed economies. Building on the assumption that unit values reflect quality the prevailing view of the literature is that China exports low quality varieties of the same products than its advanced competitors. This paper challenges this view by relaxing the assumption that unit values reflect quality. We derive the quality of Chinese exports to the European Union by estimating disaggregated demand functions from a discrete choice model. The paper has two major findings. First, China’s share on the European Union market is larger than would be justified by its relatively low average prices, implying that the quality of Chinese export products is relatively high compared to many competitors. Second, China has gained quality relative to other competitors since 1995, indicating that China is climbing up the quality ladder. The relatively high and improving quality of China’s exports may be explained by the increasing role of global production networks in China. JEL Classification: F1, F12, F14, F15, F23

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 1310.

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Date of creation: Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20111310

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Keywords: Chinese Exports; COMEXT database; Discrete Choice Model; Global Production Networks; Quality Ladder; Vertical Product Differentiation;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Benkovskis , Konstantins & Wörz , Julia, 2013. "What drives the market share changes? Price versus non-price factors," BOFIT Discussion Papers 18/2013, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
  2. Hélène Latzer & Florian Mayneris, 2011. "Trade in quality and income distribution: an analysis of the enlarged EU market," Working Papers of BETA 2011-21, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.
  3. Pula, Gabor & Daniel Santabarbara, Daniel, 2012. "Is China climbing up the quality ladder?," BOFIT Discussion Papers 23/2012, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
  4. Dorrucci, Ettore & Pula, Gabor & Santabárbara, Daniel, 2013. "China's economic growth and rebalancing," Occasional Paper Series 142, European Central Bank.
  5. Giorgia Giovannetti, Marco Sanfilippo and Margherita Velucchi, 2012. "The impact of China on manufacturing exports of Italy and Germany," RSCAS Working Papers 2012/26, European University Institute.
  6. Corsetti, Giancarlo & Dedola, Luca & Viani, Francesca, 2011. "The International Risk-Sharing Puzzle is at Business Cycle and Lower Frequency," CEPR Discussion Papers 8355, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Benkovskis, Konstantins & Wörz, Julia, 2012. "Non-price competitiveness of exports from emerging countries," BOFIT Discussion Papers 19/2012, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
  8. Giorgia Giovannetti & Marco Sanfilippo & Margherita Velucchi, 2011. "The “China effect” on EU Exports to OECD markets – A focus on Italy," Working Papers - Economics wp2011_17.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
  9. Jose Maria Casado, 2012. "Consumption partial insurance of Spanish households," Banco de Espa�a Working Papers 1214, Banco de Espa�a.

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