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The Margins of Multinational Production and the Role of Intra-firm trade

  • Irarrazabal, Alfonso
  • Moxnes, Andreas
  • Opromolla, Luca David

In this paper we ask why the gravity model of international trade also work well for foreign direct investment (FDI) flows or multinational production (MP). We propose a model of trade and horizontal FDI, where the subsidiary is allowed to source inputs from the headquarters. Under certain parameter values, the model will generate gravity relationships for both exports and MP. Matching the model with data using a unique firm-level dataset of both exports and MP reveals the following results. First, intra-firm trade appears to play a crucial role in shaping the geography of MP. Our conclusions are robust to any geographical distribution of fixed costs. Second, counterfactual experiments show that impeding FDI leads to reduced domestic labor demand by the headquarters, suggesting that outwards FDI may have positive effects on home employment.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7145.

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Date of creation: Jan 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7145
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  1. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, and Trade Structure," NBER Working Papers 9740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2007. "Firms in International Trade," Working Papers 07-14, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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  4. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2008. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 441-487, 05.
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  6. Yeaple, Stephen & Helpman, Elhanan & Melitz, Marc, 2004. "Export versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," Scholarly Articles 3229098, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. 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.
  8. Antras, Pol & Helpman, Elhanan, 2004. "Global Sourcing," Scholarly Articles 3196327, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Kleinert, Jn & Toubal, Farid, 2006. "Distance costs and Multinationals' foreign activities," CEI Working Paper Series 2006-6, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  10. Tomiura, Eiichi, 2007. "Foreign outsourcing, exporting, and FDI: A productivity comparison at the firm level," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 113-127, May.
  11. Kleinert, Jn & Toubal, Farid, 2006. "Dissecting FDI," CEI Working Paper Series 2006-7, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  12. Davin Chor & Kalina Manova & Stanley B. Watt, 2007. "Host Country Financial Development and MNC Activity," Finance Working Papers 22068, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  13. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2000. "Gravity with Gravitas: A Solution to the Border Puzzle," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 485, Boston College Department of Economics.
  14. James E. Anderson & Eric van Wincoop, 2004. "Trade Costs," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(3), pages 691-751, September.
  15. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  16. Kalina Manova, 2008. "Credit Constraints, Heterogeneous Firms, and International Trade," NBER Working Papers 14531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Bruce A. Blonigen & Ronald B. Davies & Keith Head, 2002. "Estimating The Knowledge-Capital Model of the Multinational Enterprise: Comment," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2002-13, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Mar 2002.
  18. 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.
  19. Brainard, S Lael, 1997. "An Empirical Assessment of the Proximity-Concentration Trade-off between Multinational Sales and Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 520-44, September.
  20. Michael P. Keane & Susan E. Feinberg, 2006. "Accounting for the Growth of MNC-Based Trade Using a Structural Model of U.S. MNCs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1515-1558, December.
  21. Mayer, Thierry & Paillacar, Rodrigo & Zignago, Soledad, 2008. "TradeProd. The CEPII Trade, Production and Bilateral Protection Database: Explanatory Notes," MPRA Paper 26477, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  22. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Helpman, Elhanan, 1984. "A Simple Theory of International Trade with Multinational Corporations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(3), pages 451-71, June.
  24. Head, Keith & Ries, John, 2008. "FDI as an outcome of the market for corporate control: Theory and evidence," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 2-20, January.
  25. 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.
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