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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. Volker Nocke & Stephen Yeaple, 2006. "Globalization and Endogenous Firm Scope," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-015, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  2. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
  3. Daniel Trefler, 2006. "The Long and Short of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement," STICERD - Economics of Industry Papers 41, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  4. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers Archive 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Andrew Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2008. "Multi-Product Firms and Product Switching," Working Papers 08-24, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2002. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," NBER Working Papers 9023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bernard, A., 1997. "Exceptional Exporter Performance: Cause, Effect, or Both?," Working papers 97-21, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  10. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2004. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," 2004 Meeting Papers 802, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  11. 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.
  12. Andrew Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2009. "Multi-Product Firms and Trade Liberalization," Working Papers 09-21, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  13. J. Bradford Jensen & Andrew Bernard, 2005. "Firm Structure, Multinationals, and Manufacturing Plant Deaths," Working Papers 05-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  14. 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.
  15. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Elhanan Helpman, 1998. "The Structure of Foreign Trade," NBER Working Papers 6752, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. 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.
  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. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "Learning-by-Exporting" Important? Micro-Dynamic Evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," NBER Working Papers 5715, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. 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.
  21. Nina Pavcnik, 2000. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," NBER Working Papers 7852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 589-630, September.
  23. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 295-316.
  24. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogeneous Firms," CEP Discussion Papers dp0643, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  25. 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 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.
  28. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. 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.
  30. repec:rus:hseeco:121669 is not listed on IDEAS
  31. Carsten Eckel & J. Peter Neary, 2010. "Multi-Product Firms and Flexible Manufacturing in the Global Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 188-217.
  32. J. Bradford Jensen & Andrew Bernard & Peter Schott, 2005. "Survival of the Best Fit: Exposure to Low-Wage Countries and the (Uneven) Growth of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," Working Papers 05-19, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  36. 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.
  37. 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.
  38. 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.
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