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Firms in International Trade

  • Bernard, Andrew B.
  • Jensen, J Bradford
  • Redding, Stephen J.
  • Schott, Peter K.

Despite the fact that importing and exporting are extremely rare firm activities, economists generally devote little attention to the role of firms when discussing international trade. This paper summarizes key differences between trading and non-trading firms, demonstrates how these differences present a challenge to standard trade models and shows how recent 'heterogeneous-firm' models of international trade address these challenges. We then make use of transaction-level U.S. trade data to introduce a number of new stylized facts about firms and trade. These facts reveal that the extensive margins of trade - that is, the number of products firms trade as well as the number of countries with which they trade - are central to understanding the well-known role of distance in dampening aggregate trade flows.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6277.

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Date of creation: Apr 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6277
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter.K Schott, 2006. "Multi-product firms and product switching," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3687, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Daniel Trefler, 2001. "The Long and Short of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement," NBER Working Papers 8293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2006. "Multi-Product Firms and Trade Liberalization," CEP Discussion Papers dp0769, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  5. Roberto Alvarez & Ricardo López, 2005. "Exporting and performance: evidence from Chilean plants," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1384-1400, November.
  6. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 589-630, September.
  7. repec:rus:hseeco:121669 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Elhanan Helpman, 1999. "The Structure of Foreign Trade," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 121-144, Spring.
  9. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-46, December.
  10. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2005. "Exporting raises productivity in sub-Saharan African manufacturing firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-391, December.
  11. Eckel, Carsten & Neary, J. P., 2010. "Multi-product firms and flexible manufacturing in the global economy," Munich Reprints in Economics 20525, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  12. Melitz, Marc J, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Nina Pavcnik, 2002. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 245-276.
  14. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  15. Juan Carlos Hallak & Peter K. Schott, 2011. "Estimating Cross-Country Differences in Product Quality," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(1), pages 417-474.
  16. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  18. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
  19. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter K. Schott, 2003. "Survival of the Best Fit: Exposure to Low-Wage Countries and the (Uneven) Growth of US Manufacturing Plants," Working Paper Series WP03-3, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  20. Bernard, A., 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," Working papers 97-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  21. 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.
  22. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "learning-by-exporting" important? Micro-dynamic evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  23. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  24. Rubinstein, Yona & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," Scholarly Articles 3228230, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  25. repec:oup:restud:v:69:y:2002:i:1:p:245-76 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogeneous Firms," NBER Working Papers 10668, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2004. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(6), pages 1384-1402, December.
  28. Andrew B Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2007. "Firm Structure, Multinationals, and Manufacturing Plant Deaths," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(2), pages 193-204, May.
  29. Sanghamitra Das & Mark J. Roberts & James R. Tybout, 2007. "Market Entry Costs, Producer Heterogeneity, and Export Dynamics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(3), pages 837-873, 05.
  30. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487.
  31. Hillberry, Russell & Hummels, David, 2008. "Trade responses to geographic frictions: A decomposition using micro-data," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 527-550, April.
  32. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2004. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," 2004 Meeting Papers 802, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  33. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I.P. Ottaviano, 2005. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," NBER Working Papers 11393, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. 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.
  35. Volker Nocke & Stephen Yeaple, 2006. "Globalization and Endogenous Firm Scope," NBER Working Papers 12322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Raymond Vernon, 1966. "International Investment and International Trade in the Product Cycle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(2), pages 190-207.
  37. Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Across-Product Versus Within-Product Specialization in International Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(2), pages 647-678.
  38. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "The Economic Theory of Index Numbers and the Measurement of Input, Output, and Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1393-1414, November.
  39. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  40. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
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