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Exporting from Manufacturing Firms in Sub-Saharan Africa

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  • Neil Rankin
  • Måns Söderbom
  • Francis Teal

Abstract

The poor performance of many African economies has been associated with low growth of exports in general and of manufacturing exports in particular. In this paper, we draw on micro-evidence of manufacturing firms in five African countries, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa and Nigeria, to investigate the causes of poor exporting performance. We exploit a data set which has a much longer panel dimension than that has been used before to assess the relative importance of self-selection based on efficiency and firm size as determinants of export participation. We show that firm size is a robust determinant of the decision to export. It is not a proxy for efficiency, for capital intensity, for sector or for time-invariant unobservables. In contrast, the evidence for self-selection into exporting is very weak. Finally, our use of a longer run panel than that has been available before has allowed us to separate out the roles of ownership and skills as possible determinants of participation in exporting. We find that both foreign ownership and skills are significant determinants of exporting. Copyright 2006, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Rankin & Måns Söderbom & Francis Teal, 2006. "Exporting from Manufacturing Firms in Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 15(4), pages 671-687, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:15:y:2006:i:4:p:671-687
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sofronis K. Clerides & Saul Lach & James R. Tybout, 1998. "Is Learning by Exporting Important? Micro-Dynamic Evidence from Colombia, Mexico, and Morocco," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 903-947.
    2. Soderbom, Mans & Teal, Francis, 2004. "Size and efficiency in African manufacturing firms: evidence from firm-level panel data," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 369-394, February.
    3. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2005. "Exporting raises productivity in sub-Saharan African manufacturing firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-391, December.
    4. A. Isgut, 2001. "What's Different about Exporters? Evidence from Colombian Manufacturing," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(5), pages 57-82.
    5. Måns S–derbom & Francis Teal, 2003. "Are Manufacturing Exports the Key to Economic Success in Africa?," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(1), pages 1-29, March.
    6. M. Soderbaum & F. Teal, 2000. "Skills, Investment and Exports from Manufacturing Firms in Africa," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(2), pages 13-43.
    7. Francis Teal & Måns Söderbom & Francis Teal, 2000. "Skills, investment and exports from manufacturing firms in Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2000-08, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
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