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Imports and Exports at the Level of the Firm: Evidence from Belgium

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  • Mirabelle Muûls
  • Mauro Pisu

Abstract

This paper explores a newly-available panel data set merging balance sheet and international trade transaction data for Belgium. Both imports and exports appear to be highly concentrated among few firms and seem to have become more so over time. Focusing on manufacturing, we find that facts previously reported in the literature for exports only actually apply to imports too. We note that the number of trading firms diminishes as the number of export destinations or import origins increases. The same is true if we consider the number of products traded. With regard to productivity differentials, firms that both import and export appear to be the most productive, followed, in descending order, by importers only, exporters only and non-traders. These results point to the presence of fixed costs; not only of exporting, but also of importing and to a process of self-selection in both export and import markets. Also, the productivity advantage of exporters reported in the literature may be overstated because imports were not considered.

Suggested Citation

  • Mirabelle Muûls & Mauro Pisu, 2007. "Imports and Exports at the Level of the Firm: Evidence from Belgium," CEP Discussion Papers dp0801, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0801
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    exports; imports; productivity; firms;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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