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Imports and exports at the level of the firm: evidence from Belgium

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  • Mirabelle Muuls
  • Mauro Pisu

Abstract

This paper explores a newly-available panel data set merging balance sheet and international trade transaction data for Belgium. Both imports and exports appear to be highly concentrated among few firms and seem to have become more so over time. Focusing on manufacturing, we find that facts previously reported in the literature for exports only actually apply to imports too. We note that the number of trading firms diminishes as the number of export destinations or import origins increases. The same is true if we consider the number of products traded. With regard to productivity differentials, firms that both import and export appear to be the most productive, followed, in descending order, by importers only, exporters only and non-traders. These results point to the presence of fixed costs; not only of exporting, but also of importing and to a process of self-selection in both export and import markets. Also, the productivity advantage of exporters reported in the literature may be overstated because imports were not considered.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/19711/
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 19711.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19711

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Keywords: exports; imports; productivity; firms;

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References

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  1. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2004. "Dissecting Trade: Firms, Industries, and Export Destinations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 150-154, May.
  2. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2003. "Exporting Raises Productivity in Sub-Saharan African Manufacturing Plants," NBER Working Papers 10020, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Adriana Schor, 2004. "Heterogeneous Productivity Response to Tariff Reduction: Evidence from Brazilian Manufacturing Firms," NBER Working Papers 10544, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Sofronis K. Clerides & Saul Lach & James R. Tybout, 1998. "Is Learning By Exporting Important? Micro-Dynamic Evidence From Colombia, Mexico, And Morocco," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 113(3), pages 903-947, August.
  6. Davide Castellani, 2002. "Export behavior and productivity growth: Evidence from Italian manufacturing firms," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 138(4), pages 605-628, December.
  7. Schor, Adriana, 2004. "Heterogeneous productivity response to tariff reduction. Evidence from Brazilian manufacturing firms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 373-396, December.
  8. B. Robert & L. Dresse, 2005. "Industry in Belgium : past developments and challenges for the future," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue III, pages 7-44, September.
  9. Megan MacGarvie, 2006. "Do Firms Learn from International Trade?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 46-60, February.
  10. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2005. "Importers, Exporters, and Multinationals: A Portrait of Firms in the U.S. that Trade Goods," Working Paper Series WP05-10, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  11. Wagner, Joachim, 2002. "The causal effects of exports on firm size and labor productivity: first evidence from a matching approach," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 77(2), pages 287-292, October.
  12. Aw, B. -Y. & Hwang, A. R., 1995. "Productivity and the export market: A firm-level analysis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 313-332, August.
  13. Sourafel Girma & Richard Kneller & Mauro Pisu, 2005. "Exports versus FDI: An Empirical Test," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 141(2), pages 193-218, July.
  14. John R. Baldwin & Wulong Gu, 2004. "Trade Liberalization: Export-market Participation, Productivity Growth, and Innovation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 372-392, Autumn.
  15. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Marc-Andreas Muendler, 2004. "Trade, Technology, and Productivity: A Study of Brazilian Manufacturers, 1986-1998," CESifo Working Paper Series 1148, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Fernandes, Ana M., 2007. "Trade policy, trade volumes and plant-level productivity in Colombian manufacturing industries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(1), pages 52-71, March.
  18. Eric J. Bartelsman & Mark Doms, 2000. "Understanding productivity: lessons from longitudinal microdata," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-19, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  19. Hummels, David & Ishii, Jun & Yi, Kei-Mu, 2001. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 75-96, June.
  20. Feenstra, Robert C & Markusen, James R & Zeile, William, 1992. "Accounting for Growth with New Inputs: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 415-21, May.
  21. Bernard, A., 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," Working papers 97-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  22. Markusen, James R, 1989. "Trade in Producer Services and in Other Specialized Intermediate Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 85-95, March.
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