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The Buyer Margins of Firms' Exports

  • Jerónimo Carballo
  • Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano
  • Christian Volpe Martincus

We use highly disaggregated firm-level export data from Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Uruguay over the period 2005-2008 to provide a precise characterization of firms' export margins, across products, destination countries, and crucially customers. We show that a firm's number of buyers and the distribution of sales across them systematically vary with the characteristics of its destination markets. While most firms serve only very few buyers abroad, the number of buyers and the skewness of sales across them increases with the size and the accessibility of destinations. We develop a simple model of selection with heterogeneous buyers and sellers consistent with these findings in which tougher competition induces a better alignment between consumers' ideal variants and firms' core competencies. This generates an additional channel through which tougher competition leads to higher productivity and higher welfare and hints at an additional source of gains from trade as long as freer trade fosters competition.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp1234.

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Date of creation: Jul 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1234
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. Michael Spence, 1976. "Product Selection, Fixed Costs, and Monopolistic Competition," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 217-235.
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  7. Costas Arkolakis, 2008. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 14214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Development Working Papers 201, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  9. Andrew B. Bernard & Marco Grazzi & Chiara Tomasi, 2012. "Intermediaries in International Trade: Direct Versus Indirect Modes of Export," CEP Discussion Papers dp1137, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Dixit, Avinash K & Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1977. "Monopolistic Competition and Optimum Product Diversity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 297-308, June.
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  13. 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.
  14. Bernardo S. Blum & Sebastian Claro & Ignatius Horstmann, 2010. "Facts and Figures on Intermediated Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 419-23, May.
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  18. Gianmarco Ottaviano & Takatoshi Tabuchi & Jacques-FranÁois Thisse, 2002. "Agglomeration and Trade Revisited," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(2), pages 409-436, May.
  19. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2012. "The Empirics of Firm Heterogeneity and International Trade," Working Papers 12-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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  24. 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.
  25. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity (DOI:10.111/j.1467-937x.2007.00463.x)," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(3), pages 985-985.
  26. Costas Arkolakis & Arnaud Costinot & Dave Donaldson & Andrés Rodríguez-Clare, 2015. "The Elusive Pro-Competitive Effects of Trade," NBER Working Papers 21370, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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