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Exchange Rates and the Margins of Trade: Evidence from Chinese Exporters


  • Heiwai Tang
  • Yifan Zhang


This article studies how real exchange rate movements affect firm export behavior, using monthly data that cover the universe of Chinese export transactions over the period of 2000--2006. Specifically, we examine exchange rate effects on an exporter's extensive (entry, exit, and product churning) and intensive margins of exports. We find significant effects on the extensive margin. A 10% real appreciation of the renminbi is associated with a 1 percentage point decline in the probability of entry, and a 0.2 percentage point increase in the probability of exit. The effects among foreign-invested enterprises almost double for both entry and exit. Despite the seemingly large effect on the extensive margins, exchange rates alone can only explain about 4% of entries and about 1.6% of exits during the sample period. The exchange-rate elasticity of exports is estimated to be around 0.4 in the first year after the shock, with most of the adjustment taking place in the first six months. This finding of a relatively fast response to exchange rate shocks is consistent with anecdotal evidence about intense competition in the Chinese export sectors. (JEL codes: F14, F31, F32) Copyright The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Ifo Institute, Munich. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Heiwai Tang & Yifan Zhang, 2012. "Exchange Rates and the Margins of Trade: Evidence from Chinese Exporters," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 58(4), pages 671-702, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:cesifo:v:58:y:2012:i:4:p:671-702

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel Goya, 2014. "The Multiple Impacts of the Exchange Rate on Export Diversification," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1436, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    2. Ben Tomlin & Loretta Fung, 2015. "Exchange Rate Movements and the Distribution of Productivity," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(4), pages 782-809, September.
    3. Sun, Puyang & Hou, Xinyu & Tan, Yong, 2017. "Export Rivalry and Exchange Rate Pass-Through," MPRA Paper 83369, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Muneesh Kapur & Rakesh Mohan, 2014. "India’s Recent Macroeconomic Performance; An Assessment and Way Forward," IMF Working Papers 14/68, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Yao Amber Li & Jenny Xu & Carol Zhao Chen, 2015. "Import Response to Exchange Rate Fluctuations: A Micro-level Investigation," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2015-27, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised May 2015.
    6. repec:eee:jimfin:v:81:y:2018:i:c:p:185-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Tan, Yong & Zhao, Chen, 2017. "New Exporters and Continuing Exporters under Exchange Rate Fluctuations," MPRA Paper 77244, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Fatum, Rasmus & Liu, Runjuan & Tong, Jiadong & Xu, Jiayun, 2015. "Beggar thy neighbor or beggar thy domestic firms? evidence from 2000-2011 Chinese customs data," Globalization and Monetary Policy Institute Working Paper 257, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    9. Xu, Jiayun & Mao, Qilin & Tong, Jiadong, 2016. "The impact of exchange rate movements on multi-product firms' export performance: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 46-62.
    10. Juan Marchetti & Michele Ruta & Robert Teh, 2012. "Trade Imbalances and Multilateral Trade Cooperation," CESifo Working Paper Series 4050, CESifo Group Munich.
    11. Huang, Xiaobing, 2017. "Exchange rate movements and export market dynamics: Evidence from China," Economics Discussion Papers 2017-13, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    12. Yao Amber Li & Carol Zhao Chen, 2015. "Forward-Looking Exporters and Exchange Rate Pass-Through: A Micro-Level Investigation," HKUST IEMS Working Paper Series 2015-28, HKUST Institute for Emerging Market Studies, revised Jul 2015.
    13. Auboin, Marc & Ruta, Michele, 2013. "The relationship between exchange rates and international trade: a literature review," World Trade Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(03), pages 577-605, July.
    14. Lin, Faqin & Hu, Cui & Fuchs, Andreas, 2016. "How Do Firms Respond to Political Tensions? The Heterogeneity of the Dalai Lama Effect on Trade," Working Papers 0628, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    15. Khalid Sekkat, 2016. "Export Orientation and Exchange Rate Changes: Do Firms React Differently and Why?," Working Papers 989, Economic Research Forum, revised Apr 2016.
    16. Jérôme Héricourt & Clément Nedoncelle, 2015. "Relative Real Exchange-Rate Volatility, Multi-Destination Firms and Trade: Micro Evidence and Aggregate Implications," Working Papers 2015-03, CEPII research center.
    17. Salamat Ali, 2017. "Exchange Rate Effects on Agricultural Exports: Firm-level Evidence from Pakistan," Discussion Papers 2017-09, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    18. Hu, Cui & Parsley, David & Tan, Yong, 2017. "Exchange Rate Induced Export Quality Upgrading: A Firm-Level Perspective," MPRA Paper 80506, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Li, Hongbin & Ma, Hong & Xu, Yuan, 2015. "How do exchange rate movements affect Chinese exports? — A firm-level investigation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 148-161.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F31 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Exchange
    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements


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