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A Touch of Sophistication: FDI and Unit Values of Exports


  • Harding, Torfinn
  • Javorcik, Beata


The debate on trade and growth increasingly focuses on the composition of exports. Exports of more "sophisticated" products appear to be positively correlated with growth, and upgrading the quality of exports is high on the policy agenda of many countries. This study presents evidence suggesting that attracting inflows of FDI offers potential for upgrading a country’s export basket. The empirical analysis relates unit values of exports measured at the 4-digit SITC level to data on sectors treated by investment promotion agencies as priority in their efforts to attract FDI. The sample covers 116 countries over the period 1984-2000. The findings are consistent with a positive effect of FDI on unit values of exports in developing countries. However, such a relationship is less evident in developed countries. These results suggest that FDI can help bridge gaps in production and marketing techniques between developing and high income economies.

Suggested Citation

  • Harding, Torfinn & Javorcik, Beata, 2009. "A Touch of Sophistication: FDI and Unit Values of Exports," CEPR Discussion Papers 7596, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7596

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aitken, Brian & Hanson, Gordon H. & Harrison, Ann E., 1997. "Spillovers, foreign investment, and export behavior," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1-2), pages 103-132, August.
    2. Iacovone, Leonardo & Javorcik, Beata S., 2008. "Multi-product exporters : diversification and micro-level dynamics," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4723, The World Bank.
    3. Rauch, James E., 1999. "Networks versus markets in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 7-35, June.
    4. Torfinn Harding & Beata Smarzynska Javorcik, 2007. "Developing economies and international investors. Do investment promotion agencies bring them together?," Discussion Papers 513, Statistics Norway, Research Department.
    5. Deborah L. Swenson, 2008. "Multinationals and the creation of Chinese trade linkages," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(2), pages 596-618, May.
    6. Zhi Wang & Shang-Jin Wei, 2010. "What Accounts for the Rising Sophistication of China's Exports?," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 63-104 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Beata Smarzynska Javorcik, 2004. "Does Foreign Direct Investment Increase the Productivity of Domestic Firms? In Search of Spillovers Through Backward Linkages," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 605-627, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
    10. Alessandro Nicita & Marcelo Olarreaga, 2007. "Trade, Production, and Protection Database, 1976--2004," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 21(1), pages 165-171.
    11. John Sutton, 2007. "Quality, Trade and the Moving Window: The Globalisation Process," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(524), pages 469-498, November.
    12. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Florian Mayneris & Sandra Poncet, 2010. "Export Performance of China's Domestic Firms: the Role of Foreign Export Spillovers," Working Papers 2010-32, CEPII research center.
    2. Kaitila, Ville, 2010. "Quality-adjusted similarity of EU-countriesŽ export structure," Discussion Papers 1227, The Research Institute of the Finnish Economy.

    More about this item


    exports; FDI; industrial policy; investment promotion; quality; unit values;

    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L52 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods

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