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A Model of Trade with Ricardian Comparative Advantage and Intra-sectoral Firm Heterogeneity

  • Haichao Fan
  • Edwin L.-C. Lai
  • Han Steffan Qi

In this paper, we merge the heterogenous firm trade model of Melitz (2003) with the Ricardian model of Dornbusch, Fisher and Samuelson (DFS 1977) to explain how the pattern of international specialization and trade is determined by the interaction of comparative advantage, economies of scale, country sizes and trade barriers. The model is able to capture the existence of inter-industry trade and intra-industry trade in a single unified framework. It explains how trade openness affects the pattern of international specialization and trade. It generalizes Melitz’s firm selection effect in the face of trade liberalization to a setting where the patterns of inter-industry trade and intra-industry are endogenous. Although opening to trade is unambiguously welfare-improving in both countries, trade liberalization can lead to an counter-Melitz effect in the larger country if it is insufficiently competitive in the sectors where it has the strongest comparative disadvantage but still produces. In this case, the operating productivity cutoff is lowered while the exporting cutoff increases in the face of trade liberalization. This is because the intersectoral resource allocation (IRA) effect dominates the Melitz effect in these sectors. Consequently, the larger country can lose from trade liberalization. Some hypotheses related to firms’ exporting behavior across sectors upon opening up to trade and upon trade liberalization are also derived. Analyses of firm-level data of Chinese manufacturing sectors confirm these hypotheses.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3634.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3634
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  1. Demidova, Svetlana, 2005. "Productivity Improvements and Falling Trade Costs: Boon or Bane?," Working Papers 2-05-1, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics.
  2. 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.
  3. Dornbusch, Rudiger & Fischer, Stanley & Samuelson, Paul A, 1977. "Comparative Advantage, Trade, and Payments in a Ricardian Model with a Continuum of Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(5), pages 823-39, December.
  4. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2007. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogeneous Firms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(1), pages 31-66.
  5. Krugman, Paul R., 1979. "Increasing returns, monopolistic competition, and international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 469-479, November.
  6. Costas Arkolakis, 2008. "Market Penetration Costs and the New Consumers Margin in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 14214, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Thomas Chaney, 2008. "Distorted Gravity: The Intensive and Extensive Margins of International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1707-21, September.
  8. Brandt, Loren & Van Biesebroeck, Johannes & Zhang, Yifan, 2012. "Creative accounting or creative destruction? Firm-level productivity growth in Chinese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 339-351.
  9. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 593, Boston College Department of Economics.
  10. Bernard, Andrew B. & Jensen, J. Bradford & Schott, Peter K., 2006. "Trade costs, firms and productivity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 917-937, July.
  11. Toshihiro Okubo, 2009. "Firm heterogeneity and Ricardian comparative advantage within and across sectors," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 38(3), pages 533-559, March.
  12. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
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