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Import competition from and offshoring to China: A curse or blessing for firms?

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  • Mion, Giordano
  • Zhu, Linke

Abstract

We use Belgian manufacturing firm-level data over the period 1996–2007 to analyze the impact of imports from different origins on firm employment growth, exit, and skill upgrading. For this purpose, we use both industry-level and firm-level imports by country of origin and further distinguish between firm-level offshoring of final versus intermediate goods. Results indicate that China is different from both other low-wage and OECD countries. Industry-level import competition from China reduces firm employment growth and induce skill upgrading in low-tech manufacturing industries. On the other hand, import competition has no effect on firm survival, while offshoring of finished goods to China actually increases firms' probability of survival. In terms of skill upgrading, the effect of Chinese imports is large. Import competition from China accounts for 27% (48%) of the total observed increase – within and between firms – in the share of non-production (highly educated) workers in low-tech Belgian manufacturing over our period of analysis. Offshoring to China further accounts for a small but significant increase in the share of non-production workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Mion, Giordano & Zhu, Linke, 2013. "Import competition from and offshoring to China: A curse or blessing for firms?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 202-215.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:inecon:v:89:y:2013:i:1:p:202-215
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jinteco.2012.06.004
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    Keywords

    Import competition; Offshoring; China; Skill upgrading; Technological change;

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance

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