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Buyer investment, export variety, and intrafirm trade


  • Chen, Yongmin
  • Feenstra, Robert C.


This paper studies a model of buyer investment and its effect on the variety and vertical structure of international trade. A distinction is made between two types of buyer investment: "Flexible" and "specific", which differ in the ability of a buyer to match with a seller. The interaction of buyer investment with the entry and pricing incentives of suppliers are analyzed. It is shown that (i) there can be multiple equilibria in the variety of products traded, and (ii) less product variety is associated with more intrafirm trade. The possibility of multiple equilibria is consistent with the observation that some similar economies, such as Taiwan and South Korea, differ substantially in their export varieties to the U.S. A cross-country empirical analysis confirms the negative correlation between export variety and intrafirm trade.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Yongmin & Feenstra, Robert C., 2008. "Buyer investment, export variety, and intrafirm trade," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(8), pages 1313-1337, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:52:y:2008:i:8:p:1313-1337

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Christian Broda & David E. Weinstein, 2006. "Globalization and the Gains From Variety," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 541-585.
    2. Feenstra, Robert C, 1994. "New Product Varieties and the Measurement of International Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 157-177, March.
    3. Grossman, Sanford J & Hart, Oliver D, 1986. "The Costs and Benefits of Ownership: A Theory of Vertical and Lateral Integration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(4), pages 691-719, August.
    4. Pol Antras & Elhanan Helpman, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(3), pages 552-580, June.
    5. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116.
    7. Yongmin Chen, 2006. "Marketing Innovation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 101-123, March.
    8. Robert C. Feenstra & James R. Markusen & Andrew K. Rose, 2001. "Using the gravity equation to differentiate among alternative theories of trade," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(2), pages 430-447, May.
    9. William J. Zeile, 2003. "Trade in Goods Within Multinational Companies: Survey-Based Data and Findings for the United States of America," BEA Papers 0033, Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    10. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1375-1418.
    11. James E. Rauch & Joel Watson, 2004. "Network Intermediaries in International Trade," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 69-93, March.
    12. Feenstra, Robert C. & Yang, Tzu-Han & Hamilton, Gary G., 1999. "Business groups and product variety in trade: evidence from South Korea, Taiwan and Japan," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 71-100, June.
    13. Feenstra, Robert & Kee, Hiau Looi, 2008. "Export variety and country productivity: Estimating the monopolistic competition model with endogenous productivity," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 500-518, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pol Antràs & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2009. "Organizations and Trade," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 43-64, May.
    2. Catherine Mann, 2011. "Information Technology, Globalization, and Growth: Role for Scale Economies, Terms of Trade, and Variety," Working Papers 27, Brandeis University, Department of Economics and International Businesss School.
    3. Pol Antràs, 2014. "Grossman–Hart (1986) Goes Global: Incomplete Contracts, Property Rights, and the International Organization of Production," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(suppl_1), pages 118-175.
    4. Madsen, Jakob B. & Saxena, Shishir & Ang, James B., 2010. "The Indian growth miracle and endogenous growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 37-48, September.
    5. Antrà s, Pol & Yeaple, Stephen R., 2014. "Multinational Firms and the Structure of International Trade," Handbook of International Economics, Elsevier.


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