Is Previous Exporting Experience Relevant for New Exports?
Recent models of international trade show that trade costs are important determinants of exporting decisions and productivity dynamics. By assuming that these costs are exogenous and constant across firms, these theories do not take into account that experienced firms may have lower trading costs or that new exporters may reduce these costs by observing the decisions of other exporters. This study argues that firms with previous experience exporting a product to a particular market are more likely to start exporting the same product to another market, or a different product to the same market. The paper also contends that the previous experience of other exporters can significantly influence a firm’s decision to introduce a new product to a new market. Using a firm-level dataset from Chile with information on exports by product and destination market, the paper finds that an increase in the cumulative value exported by a firm increases the probability that the firm will export a previously exported product to a different market or a different product to a market to which the firm already exported a product. The results also show that an increase in the cumulative value exported of a product, or to a foreign market, by other exporters raises the probability that firms will export new products and/or to new markets. Our findings are consistent with the idea that previous exporting experience may help reduce the firm’s entry costs to international markets. The rich dataset used in this study allows the identification of these effects controlling for various time-varying observed and unobserved characteristics which may create a spurious correlation between firms’ export decisions, their previous exporting experience, and the export activity of other exporters
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