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Please Pass the Catch-Up: The Relative Performance of Chinese and Foreign Firms in Chinese Exports

In: China's Growing Role in World Trade


  • Bruce A. Blonigen
  • Alyson C. Ma


Foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) account for well over half of all Chinese exports and this share continues to grow. While the substantial presence of FIEs has contributed greatly to the recent export-led growth of China, an important objective of the Chinese government is to ultimately obtain foreign technologies and develop their own technological capabilities domestically. This paper uses detailed data on Chinese exports by sector and type of enterprise to examine the extent to which domestic enterprises are "keeping up" or even "catching up" to FIEs in the volume, composition and quality of their exports. We also use a newly-created dataset on Chinese policies encouraging or restricting FIEs across sectors to examine the extent to which such policies can affect the evolving composition of Chinese exports.
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Suggested Citation

  • Bruce A. Blonigen & Alyson C. Ma, 2010. "Please Pass the Catch-Up: The Relative Performance of Chinese and Foreign Firms in Chinese Exports," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 475-509 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:10473

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniel H. Rosen, 1999. "Behind the Open Door: Foreign Enterprises in the Chinese Marketplace," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 23.
    2. Feenstra Robert C & Hanson Gordon H. & Lin Songhua, 2004. "The Value of Information in International Trade: Gains to Outsourcing through Hong Kong," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-37, August.
    3. Amiti, Mary & Smarzynska Javorcik, Beata, 2008. "Trade costs and location of foreign firms in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 129-149, February.
    4. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "Ownership and Control in Outsourcing to China: Estimating the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 729-761.
    5. Albert Park & Dean Yang & Xinzheng Shi & Yuan Jiang, 2010. "Exporting and Firm Performance: Chinese Exporters and the Asian Financial Crisis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 822-842, November.
    6. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2004. "Intermediaries in Entrepot Trade: Hong Kong Re-Exports of Chinese Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 3-35, March.
    7. Ricardo Hausmann & Jason Hwang & Dani Rodrik, 2007. "What you export matters," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 1-25, March.
    8. Dani Rodrik, 2006. "What's So Special about China's Exports?," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 14(5), pages 1-19.
    9. Robert C. Feenstra & Wen Hai & Wing T. Woo & Shunli Yao, "undated". "The U.S.-China Bilateral Trade Balance: It'S Size And Determinants," Department of Economics 98-09, California Davis - Department of Economics.
    10. Wei, Shang-Jin, 1995. "Attracting foreign direct investment: Has China reached its potential?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 187-199.
    11. Branstetter, Lee G. & Feenstra, Robert C., 2002. "Trade and foreign direct investment in China: a political economy approach," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(2), pages 335-358, December.
    12. 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, January.
    13. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
    14. Brambilla, Irene, 2009. "Multinationals, technology, and the introduction of varieties of goods," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(1), pages 89-101, September.
    15. Peter K. Schott, 2008. "The relative sophistication of Chinese exports," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 23, pages 5-49, January.
    16. Robert C. Feenstra & Barbara J. Spencer, 2005. "Contractual Versus Generic Outsourcing: The Role of Proximity," NBER Working Papers 11885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. WHALLEY, John & XIN, Xian, 2010. "China's FDI and non-FDI economies and the sustainability of future high Chinese growth," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 123-135, March.
    18. Honglin Zhang, Kevin, 2005. "Why does so much FDI from Hong Kong and Taiwan go to Mainland China?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 293-307.
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    Cited by:

    1. Poncet, Sandra & Starosta de Waldemar, Felipe, 2013. "Export Upgrading and Growth: The Prerequisite of Domestic Embeddedness," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 104-118.
    2. Yang, Chih-Hai & Tsou, Meng-Wen, 2015. "Multinational exposure, export variety and price: Evidence from Chinese electronics exporters," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 93-110.
    3. Sandra PONCET & Laura HERING & José DE SOUSA, 2015. "Has trade openness reduced pollution in China?," Working Papers P132, FERDI.
    4. Jarreau, Joachim & Poncet, Sandra, 2012. "Export sophistication and economic growth: Evidence from China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 281-292.
    5. Handley, Kyle & Limão, Nuno, 2013. "Policy Uncertainty, Trade and Welfare: Theory and Evidence for China and the U.S," CEPR Discussion Papers 9615, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:4:p:809-826 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Florian Mayneris & Sandra Poncet, 2010. "Export Performance of China's Domestic Firms: the Role of Foreign Export Spillovers," Working Papers 2010-32, CEPII research center.
    8. Sandra Poncet & Felipe Starosta, 2013. "Export upgrading and growth in China: the prerequisite of domestic embeddedness," PSE - G-MOND WORKING PAPERS halshs-00960684, HAL.
    9. Zhao Chen & Sandra Poncet & Ruixiang Xiong, 2016. "Inter-industry relatedness and industrial-policy efficiency: Evidence from China's Export Processing Zones," Working Papers 2016-02, CEPII research center.
    10. World Bank Group, 2017. "Investment Policy and Promotion Diagnostics and Tools," World Bank Other Operational Studies 28281, The World Bank.
    11. Tang, Yingkai & Zhang, Kevin H., 2016. "Absorptive capacity and benefits from FDI: Evidence from Chinese manufactured exports," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 423-429.
    12. Roberts, Ivan & Rush, Anthony, 2012. "Understanding China's demand for resource imports," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 566-579.
    13. Sheng, Liugang & Yang, Dennis Tao, 2016. "Expanding export variety: The role of institutional reforms in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 45-58.
    14. Li, Zhiyuan, 2013. "Task offshoring and organizational form: Theory and evidence from China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 358-380.
    15. Chen, Zhihong & Ge, Ying & Lai, Huiwen, 2011. "Foreign Direct Investment and Wage Inequality: Evidence from China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1322-1332, August.
    16. repec:eee:jcecon:v:45:y:2017:i:3:p:445-455 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Bas, Maria & Causa, Orsetta, 2013. "Trade and product market policies in upstream sectors and productivity in downstream sectors: Firm-level evidence from China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 843-862.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality


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