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Contracting and the Division of the Gains from Trade

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  • Andrew B. Bernard
  • Swati Dhingra

Abstract

This paper examines the microstructure of import markets and the division of the gains from trade among consumers, importers and exporters. When exporters and importers transact through anonymous markets, double marginalization and business stealing among competing importers lead to lower profits. Trading parties can overcome these inefficiencies by investing in richer contractual arrangements such as bilateral contracts that eliminate double marginalization and joint contracts that also internalize business stealing. Introducing these contractual choices into a trade model with heterogeneous exporters and importers, we show that trade liberalization increases the incentive to engage in joint contracts, thus raising the profits of exporters and importers at the expense of consumer welfare. We examine the implications of the model for prices, quantities and exporter-importer matches in Colombian import markets before and after the US-Colombia free trade agreement. US exporters that started to enjoy duty-free access were more likely to increase their average price, decrease their quantity exported and reduce the number of import partners.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew B. Bernard & Swati Dhingra, 2015. "Contracting and the Division of the Gains from Trade," CEP Discussion Papers dp1381, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp1381
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thomas Chaney, 2014. "The Network Structure of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(11), pages 3600-3634, November.
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    7. repec:hrv:faseco:34330170 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Defever, Fabrice & Fischer, Christian & Suedekum, Jens, 2016. "Relational contracts and supplier turnover in the global economy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 147-165.
    2. C.J. Krizan & James Tybout & Zi Wang & Yingyan Zhao, 2020. "Are Customs Records Consistent Across Countries? Evidence from the U.S. and Colombia," Working Papers 20-11, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. Swati Dhingra, 2016. "Piggy-Back Exporting, Intermediation, and the Distributional Gains from Trade in Agricultural Markets," 2016 Meeting Papers 712, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    4. Eguia, Jon X. & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol & Morton, Rebecca & Nicolò, Antonio, 2018. "Equilibrium selection in sequential games with imperfect information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 465-483.
    5. Johannes Boehm & Jan Sonntag, 2018. "Vertical Integration and Foreclosure: Evidence from Production Network Data," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2018-12, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    6. Johannes Boehm & Jan Sonntag, 2018. "Vertical Foreclosure in the Global Production Network," 2018 Meeting Papers 677, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. Raff, Horst & Schmitt, Nicolas, 2015. "Retailing and international trade: A survey of the literature," Economics Working Papers 2015-02, Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Department of Economics.
    8. Jim H. Shen & Leilei Shen & Jun Zhang, 2018. "Endowment Structure, Industry dynamics and Vertical Production Structure in China-Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 215, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK.
    9. Benguria, Felipe, 2021. "The matching and sorting of exporting and importing firms: Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(C).
    10. Jeffrey J. Reimer & Xin Zhang, 2018. "An economic model of search and matching in international trade," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(4), pages 784-800, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Heterogeneous firms; exporters; importers; vertical integration; contracts; consumer welfare;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade

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