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

  • Mirabelle Muûls
  • Mauro Pisu

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.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0801.

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Date of creation: Jun 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0801
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  9. Schor, Adriana, 2004. "Heterogeneous productivity response to tariff reduction. Evidence from Brazilian manufacturing firms," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 373-396, December.
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  17. Mark Doms & Eric J. Bartelsman, 2000. "Understanding Productivity: Lessons from Longitudinal Microdata," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(3), pages 569-594, September.
  18. David Hummels & Jun Ishii & Kei-Mu Yi, 1999. "The nature and growth of vertical specialization in world trade," Staff Reports 72, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  19. Davide Castellani, 2002. "Export behavior and productivity growth: Evidence from Italian manufacturing firms," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer, vol. 138(4), pages 605-628, December.
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  22. Markusen, James R, 1989. "Trade in Producer Services and in Other Specialized Intermediate Inputs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 85-95, March.
  23. Joze P. Damijan & Saso Polanec & Janez Prasnikar, 2004. "Self-selection, Export Market Heterogeneity and Productivity Improvements: Firm Level Evidence from Slovenia," LICOS Discussion Papers 14804, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
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