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What Accounts for the Rising Sophistication of China's Exports?

In: China's Growing Role in World Trade

  • Zhi Wang
  • Shang-Jin Wei

Chinese exports have become increasingly sophisticated. This has generated anxiety in developed countries as competitive pressure may increasingly be felt outside labor-intensive industries. Using product-level data on exports from different cities within China, this paper investigates the contributing factors to China's rising export sophistication. Somewhat surprisingly, neither processing trade nor foreign invested firms are found to play an important role in generating the increased overlap between China's export structure and that of high-income countries. Instead, improvement in human capital and government policies in the form of tax-favored high-tech zones appear to be the key to the country's evolving export structure. On the other hand, processing trade, foreign invested firms, and government-sponsored high-tech zones all have contributed significantly to raising the unit values of Chinese exports within a given product category.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Robert C. Feenstra & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "China's Growing Role in World Trade," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number feen07-1, June.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 10449.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10449
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    1. Fisman, Raymond & Moustakerski, Peter & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2007. "Outsourcing Tariff Evasion: A New Explanation for Entrepôt Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 6078, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2008. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," NBER Working Papers 13807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Fisman, Raymond & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2001. "Tax Rates and Tax Evasion: Evidence from 'Missing Imports' in China," CEPR Discussion Papers 3089, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Finger, J M & Kreinin, M E, 1979. "A Measure of 'Export Similarity' and Its Possible Uses," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 89(356), pages 905-12, December.
    5. Hausmann, Ricardo & Hwang, Jason & Rodrik, Dani, 2005. "What You Export Matters," Working Paper Series rwp05-063, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    6. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-product Versus Within-product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(2), pages 646-677, May.
    7. Rodrik, Dani, 2006. "What's So Special about China's Exports?," Working Paper Series rwp06-001, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    8. Lionel Fontagné & Guillaume Gaulier & Soledad Zignago, 2007. "Specialisation across Varieties within Products and North-South Competition," Working Papers 2007-06, CEPII research center.
    9. Galina Hale & Cheryl Long, 2006. "What Determines Technological Spillovers of Foreign Direct Investment: Evidence from China," Working Papers 934, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    10. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
    11. Peter K. Schott, 2008. "The relative sophistication of Chinese exports," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 5-49, 01.
    12. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
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