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The determinants of vertical integration in export processing: theory and evidence from China

  • Ana Fernandes
  • Heiwai Tang

Using detailed product-level export data for China and a variant of the Antràs and Helpman (2004) model that includes investments in component search, we examine the sectoral determinants of foreign direct investment (FDI) versus foreign outsourcing in export processing trade. We exploit the coexistence of two regulatory export processing regimes in China, which specify who owns and controls the imported components for export processing. We find that in the regime that Chinese plants own the imported components, the share of exports from vertically integrated plants is increasing in the intensity of headquarter inputs across sectors, and is decreasing in the contractibility of inputs. These results are consistent with the property- rights theory of intra-firm trade. However, in the regime that foreign firms own the imported components, no significant relationship is found between the prevalence of vertical integration, headquarter intensity and input contractibility across sectors. The positive relationship between productivity dispersion and the export share of integrated plants across sectors, as suggested by the existing literature, is found only in the regime that foreign firms own the imported components. These results are consistent with our model, which considers ownership of imported components as an alternative to asset ownership to alleviate the hold-up problem by the export-processing plant.

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File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28728/
File Function: Open access version.
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Paper provided by London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library in its series LSE Research Online Documents on Economics with number 28728.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:28728
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Web page: http://www.lse.ac.uk/

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  1. Pol Antràs & Elhanan Helpman, 2003. "Global Sourcing," NBER Working Papers 10082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Incomplete Contracts and the Product Cycle," NBER Working Papers 9945, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 2002. "Outsourcing versus FDI in Industry Equilibrium?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1965, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Corcos, Gregory & Irac, Delphine & Mion, Giordano & Verdier, Thierry, 2009. "The Determinants of Intra-Firm Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 7530, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. Pol Antràs, 2003. "Firms, Contracts, And Trade Structure," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(4), pages 1375-1418, November.
  7. Fabrice Defever & Farid Toubal, 2007. "Productivity and the Sourcing Modes of Multinational Firms: Evidence from French Firm-Level Data," CEP Discussion Papers dp0842, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  8. Timothy Dunne & J. Bradford Jensen & Mark J. Roberts, 2009. "Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number dunn05-1, September.
  9. Emanuel Ornelas & John L. Turner, 2012. "Protection and International Sourcing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(559), pages 26-63, 03.
  10. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2004. "Ownership and Control in Outsourcing to China: Estimating the Property-Rights Theory of the Firm," NBER Working Papers 10198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. McLaren, J., 1996. "'Globalization' and Vertical Structure," Discussion Papers 1996_21, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  12. Nathan Nunn, 2007. "Relationship-Specificity, Incomplete Contracts, and the Pattern of Trade," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(2), pages 569-600, 05.
  13. Paola Conconi & Patrick Legros & Andrew F. Newman, 2008. "Trade Liberalization and Organizational Choice," Boston University - Department of Economics - The Institute for Economic Development Working Papers Series dp-172, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  14. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2007. "Institutional Quality and International Trade," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 791-819.
  15. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
  16. Andrei A. Levchenko, 2004. "Institutional Quality and International Trade," IMF Working Papers 04/231, International Monetary Fund.
  17. Stephen Ross Yeaple, 2006. "Offshoring, Foreign Direct Investment, and the Structure of U.S. Trade," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 602-611, 04-05.
  18. repec:hrv:faseco:4784029 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Eric J. Bartelsman & Wayne Gray, 1996. "The NBER Manufacturing Productivity Database," NBER Technical Working Papers 0205, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. John Romalis, 2004. "Factor Proportions and the Structure of Commodity Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 67-97, March.
  21. Elhanan Helpman & Marc J. Melitz & Stephen R. Yeaple, 2004. "Export Versus FDI with Heterogeneous Firms," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 300-316, March.
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