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Wal-Mart as Catalyst to U.S.-China Trade

Author

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  • Emek Basker

    () (University of Missouri)

  • Van Pham Hoang

    () (Baylor University)

Abstract

Retail chains and imports of consumer goods from developing countries have grown sharply over the past 25 years. Wal-Mart’s sales, which currently account for 15% of U.S. imports of consumer goods from China, grew 90-fold over this period, while U.S. imports from China increased 30-fold. We relate these trends using a model in which scale economies in retail interact with scale economies in the import process. Combined, these scale economies amplify the effects of technological change and trade liberalization, creating a two-way relationship between the chain’s size and its sourcing choice. Falling trade barriers increase imports not only through direct reduction of input costs but also through an expanded chain and higher investment in technology. Calculations based on our model suggest that the existence of the chain more than doubles the sensitivity of imports to tariff reductions. Technological innovations account for approximately 60% of Wal-Mart’s growth from 1984–2004 and reductions in input cost, due to tariff reductions and changes in sourcing, account for 40% of this growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Emek Basker & Van Pham Hoang, 2011. "Wal-Mart as Catalyst to U.S.-China Trade," Working Papers 01, Development and Policies Research Center (DEPOCEN), Vietnam.
  • Handle: RePEc:dpc:wpaper:0111
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    Cited by:

    1. Raff, Horst & Schmitt, Nicolas, 2009. "Buyer power in international markets," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 222-229, November.
    2. Horst Raff & Nicolas Schmitt, 2016. "Manufacturers and retailers in the global economy," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 49(2), pages 685-706, May.
    3. Dimitra Petropoulou, 2007. "Information Costs, Networks and Intermediation in International Trade," Economics Series Working Papers 370, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    4. Cheptea, Angela & Emlinger, Charlotte & Latouche, Karine, 2012. "Multinational Retailers and Home Country Exports," 2012: New Rules of Trade?, December 2012, San Diego, California 142777, International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium.
    5. Emek Basker & Pham Hoang Van, 2010. "Imports "Я" Us: Retail Chains as Platforms for Developing-Country Imports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 414-418, May.
    6. Basker, Emek, 2011. "The Causes and Consequences of Wal-Mart’s Growth," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 5, pages 110-134.
    7. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2010. "Wholesalers and Retailers in US Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 408-413, May.
    8. Horst Raff & Nicolas Schmitt, 2012. "Imports and the structure of retail markets," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 45(4), pages 1431-1455, November.
    9. Carsten Eckel, 2009. "International Trade and Retailing," CESifo Working Paper Series 2597, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2010. "Wholesalers and Retailers in U.S. Trade (Long Version)," CEP Discussion Papers dp0968, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. Emek Basker & Shawn Klimek & Pham Hoang Van, 2008. "Supersize It: The Growth of Retail Chains and the Rise of the "Big Box" Retail Format," Working Papers 08-23r, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau, revised Sep 2011.
    12. Raff, Horst & Schmitt, Nicolas, 2009. "Imports, pass-through, and the structure of retail markets," Kiel Working Papers 1556, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    13. Emek Basker, 2011. "Does Wal‐Mart Sell Inferior Goods?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(4), pages 973-981, October.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Wal-Mart; Trade; Economies of Scale; China; Technological Change; Retail Chain;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation

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