Do stronger patent rights raise high-tech exports to the developing world?
Despite over 20Â years of debate, the TRIPs agreement remains very contentious. This paper evaluates the impact of strengthening patent rights (PRs) in developing countries on developed countries' exports over the 1962-2000 period. Colonial origin is used to isolate exogenous variation in PRs. The impact is then identified by examining the cross-industry difference in sensitivity to PRs. I find that the increase in PRs made in response to the TRIPs agreement added about $35Â billion (2000 US dollars) to the value of developed countries' patent-sensitive exports into 18 developing countries. This amount is equivalent to an 8.6% increase in these developing countries' annual value of patent-sensitive imports. The increase in the value of exports was driven by a quantity, rather than a price, increase.
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