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Why Are Chinese Exports Not So Special?

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  • Shunli Yao

Abstract

Applying a commonly used index for export sophistication in a cross-country study, Rodrik finds that the technological content of Chinese exports over the past decade has been so high that it cannot be explained simply by the economic fundamentals of a low-income country abundant with unskilled labor. Question has been raised for the empirical robustness of the index. I am also doubtful with Rodrik's analysis but develop my argument from a different perspective. This paper briefly reviews Rodrik's methodology and identifies other factors his empirical results potentially hinge on. Based on this, it elaborates on China's unique processing trade regime, the uneven distribution of its exports across Chinese regions and the limitation of HS codes in terms of identifying differentiated products, in an attempt to show that these factors also contribute to higher estimations of China's export sophistication level. Finally, it organizes trade data to reveal the trade patterns that are indeed consistent with the country's comparative advantage. Copyright (c) 2009 The Author Journal compilation (c) 2009 Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Suggested Citation

  • Shunli Yao, 2009. "Why Are Chinese Exports Not So Special?," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 17(1), pages 47-65.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:chinae:v:17:y:2009:i:1:p:47-65
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:hal:cesptp:halshs-00960684 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Poncet, Sandra & Starosta de Waldemar, Felipe, 2013. "Export Upgrading and Growth: The Prerequisite of Domestic Embeddedness," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 104-118.
    3. Andrew Martin Fischer, 2010. "Is China turning Latin? China's balancing act between power and dependence in the lead up to global crisis," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(6), pages 739-757.
    4. Jarreau, Joachim & Poncet, Sandra, 2012. "Export sophistication and economic growth: Evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 281-292.
    5. Shunli Yao, 2010. "Is China’s Export Sophistication Really Special?," ARTNeT Policy Briefs 30, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).
    6. Sandra Poncet & Felipe Starosta, 2013. "Export upgrading and growth in China: the prerequisite of domestic embeddedness," Working Papers halshs-00960684, HAL.
    7. repec:hal:cesptp:halshs-00962593 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Cyrielle Gaglio, 2015. "Measuring Country Competitiveness: A Survey of Exporting-based Indexes," GREDEG Working Papers 2015-42, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
    9. Joachim Jarreau & Sandra Poncet, 2011. "Export sophistication and economic growth: evidence from China," Working Papers halshs-00962593, HAL.
    10. Prema-chandra Athukorala, 2017. "China's evolving role in global production networks: implications for Trump's trade war," Departmental Working Papers 2017-08, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
    11. Prema-chandra Athukorala & John Ravenhill, 2016. "China's evolving role in global production networks: the decoupling debate revisited," Departmental Working Papers 2016-12, The Australian National University, Arndt-Corden Department of Economics.
    12. Mercedes Campi & Marco Due~nas & Le Li & Huabin Wu, 2018. "Diversification, economies of scope, and exports growth of Chinese firms," Papers 1801.02681, arXiv.org, revised Jan 2018.
    13. Murat Arsel & Andrew M. Fischer, 2015. "Forum 2015," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 46(4), pages 700-732, July.
    14. repec:spr:empeco:v:52:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1103-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Sandra Poncet & Felipe Starosta, 2013. "Export upgrading and growth in China: the prerequisite of domestic embeddedness," PSE - G-MOND WORKING PAPERS halshs-00960684, HAL.

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