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Trade Policy and Firm Boundaries

Author

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  • Alfaro, Laura
  • Conconi, Paola
  • Fadinger, Harald
  • Newman, Andrew

Abstract

We study how trade policy affects firms’ ownership structures. We embed an incom- plete contracts model of vertical integration choices into a standard perfectly-competitive international trade framework. Integration decisions are driven by a trade-off between the pecuniary benefits of coordinating production decisions and the managers’ private benefits of operating in preferred ways. The price of output is a crucial determinant of this choice, since it affects the size of the pecuniary benefits: higher prices lead to more integration. Because tariffs increase domestic product prices, this effect provides a novel theoretical channel through which trade policy can influence firm boundaries. We then examine the evidence, using a unique dataset to construct firm-level indexes of vertical integration for a large set of countries. In line with the predictions of our model, we obtain three main results. First, higher tariffs lead to higher levels of vertical integration. Second, differences in ownership structure across countries, measured by the difference in sectoral vertical integration indexes, are smaller in sectors with similar levels of protection. Finally, ownership structures are more alike among members of regional trade agreements.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfaro, Laura & Conconi, Paola & Fadinger, Harald & Newman, Andrew, 2010. "Trade Policy and Firm Boundaries," CEPR Discussion Papers 7899, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7899
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    Cited by:

    1. Conconi, Paola & Legros, Patrick & Newman, Andrew F., 2012. "Trade liberalization and organizational change," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(2), pages 197-208.
    2. Conconi, Paola & Sapir, André & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2016. "The internationalization process of firms: From exports to FDI," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 16-30.
    3. Pol Antràs, 2014. "Grossman–Hart (1986) Goes Global: Incomplete Contracts, Property Rights, and the International Organization of Production," The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(suppl_1), pages 118-175.
    4. Ferguson, Shon & Formai, Sara, 2013. "Institution-driven comparative advantage and organizational choice," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 193-200.
    5. Antrà s, Pol & Yeaple, Stephen R., 2014. "Multinational Firms and the Structure of International Trade," Handbook of International Economics, in: Gopinath, G. & Helpman, . & Rogoff, K. (ed.), Handbook of International Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 0, pages 55-130, Elsevier.
    6. Emanuel Ornelas & John L. Turner, 2012. "Protection and International Sourcing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(559), pages 26-63, March.
    7. Carlo Altomonte & Armando Rungi, 2013. "Business Groups as Hierarchies of Firms: Determinants of Vertical Integration and Performance," Working Papers 2013.33, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    8. Muhammad Sri Wahyudi Suliswanto & David Kaluge, 2012. "Globalization and gross domestic product construction in ASEAN," Economic Journal of Emerging Markets, Universitas Islam Indonesia, Department of Economics, vol. 4(2), pages 155-167, April.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Firm Organization; Regional Trade Agreements; Tariffs;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business

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