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How vertically specialized is Chinese trade?

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Author Info

  • Dean, Judith

    ()
    (BOFIT)

  • Fung, K.C.

    (BOFIT)

  • Wang, Zhi

    (BOFIT)

Abstract

Two recent phenomena have transformed the nature of world trade: the explosive growth of Chinese trade, and the growth of vertically specialized trade due to international production fragmentation. While vertical specialization may explain much of the growth and unique features of Chinese trade, few papers have quantitatively assessed these two phenomena together. In part, this is because it is difficult to measure just how vertically specialized Chinese trade is. The unique features of China's extensive processing trade cause both the identification of imported intermediate goods, and their allocation across sectors, to depend upon the Chinese trade regime. In this paper, we estimate the vertical specialization of Chinese exports, addressing these two challenges. Using two Chinese benchmark input-output tables, and a detailed Chinese trade dataset which distinguishes processing trade from other forms of trade, we develop a new method of identifying intermediate goods imported into China. Vertical specialization is then estimated using two methods. The first method uses the Hummels, Ishii and Yi (2001) measure, the official benchmark IO tables, and incorporates our identification correction. The second method follows the first, but also incorporates the Koopman, Wang and Wei (2008) method of splitting the benchmark IO tables into separate tables for processing and normal exports, in order to address the allocation problem. Results show strong evidence of an Asian network of intermediate suppliers to China, and the two methods provide a range of estimates for the foreign content of Chinese exports. In 2002 aggregate exports ranges between 25% and 46%, with some individual sectors are as high as 52%-95%. Across destinations, under both methods, the vertical specialization of Chinese exports declines with the level of development of the trading partner.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition in its series BOFIT Discussion Papers with number 31/2008.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: 23 Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:bofitp:2008_031

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Postal: Bank of Finland, BOFIT, P.O. Box 160, FI-00101 Helsinki, Finland
Phone: + 358 10 831 2268
Fax: + 358 10 831 2294
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Web page: http://www.suomenpankki.fi/bofit_en/
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Related research

Keywords: China; fragmentation; vertical specialization; trade growth;

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References

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  1. Peter K. Schott, 2006. "The Relative Sophistication of Chinese Exports," NBER Working Papers 12173, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Markusen, James R., 2005. "Modeling the Offshoring of White-Collar Services: From Comparative Advantage to the New Theories of Trade and FDI," CEPR Discussion Papers 5408, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Amiti, Mary & Smarzynska Javorcik, Beata, 2008. "Trade costs and location of foreign firms in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 129-149, February.
  4. 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.
  5. Dani Rodrik, 2006. "What's So Special about China's Exports?," NBER Working Papers 11947, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Dean, Judith M. & Lovely, Mary E. & Wang, Hua, 2004. "Foreign Direct Investment and Pollution Havens: Evaluating the Evidence from China," Working Papers 15854, United States International Trade Commission, Office of Economics.
  7. Deardorff, A.V., 1998. "Fragmentation Across Cones," Working Papers 427, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  8. Prema-chandra Athukorala, 2006. "Multinational Production Networks and the New Geo-economic Division of Labour in the Pacific Rim," Departmental Working Papers 2006-09, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  9. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "Ownership and Control in Outsourcing to China: Estimating the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 729-761, May.
  10. Richard E. Baldwin, 2008. "Managing The Noodle Bowl: The Fragility Of East Asian Regionalism," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 53(03), pages 449-478.
  11. Barbara Spencer, 2005. "International outsourcing and incomplete contracts," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1107-1135, November.
  12. Prema-chandra Athukorala & Nobuaki Yamashita, 2005. "Production Fragmentation and Trade Integration: East Asia in a Global Context," Departmental Working Papers 2005-07, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
  13. Wang, Zhi, 2003. "WTO accession, the "Greater China" free-trade area, and economic integration across the Taiwan Strait," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 316-349.
  14. Jones, Ronald & Kierzkowski, Henryk & Lurong, Chen, 2005. "What does evidence tell us about fragmentation and outsourcing?," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 305-316.
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