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Firms in international trade

  • Andrew.B Bernard
  • J. Bradford Jensen
  • Stephen Redding
  • Peter K. Schott

Despite the fact that importing and exporting are extremely rare firm activities, economists generally devote little attention to the role of firms when discussing international trade. This paper summarizes key differences between trading and non-trading firms, demonstrates how these differences present a challenge to standard trade models and shows how recent “heterogeneous-firm” models of international trade address these challenges. We then make use of transaction-level U.S. trade data to introduce a number of new stylized facts about firms and trade. These facts reveal that the extensive margins of trade – that is, the number of products firms trade as well as the number of countries with which they trade – are central to understanding the well-known role of distance in dampening aggregate trade flows.

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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 3682.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: May 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:3682
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  1. Marc J. Melitz & Gianmarco I. P. Ottaviano, 2008. "Market Size, Trade, and Productivity," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(1), pages 295-316.
  2. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum & Francis Kramarz, 2008. "An Anatomy of International Trade: Evidence from French Firms," NBER Working Papers 14610, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Andrew Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen & Peter Schott, 2003. "Survival of the best fit: exposure to low-wage countries and the (uneven) growth of US manufacturing plants," IFS Working Papers W03/12, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  4. Helpman, Elhanan, 1998. "The Structure of Foreign Trade," CEPR Discussion Papers 2020, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Trefler, Daniel, 1995. "The Case of the Missing Trade and Other Mysteries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1029-46, December.
  6. Choi, E. Kwan & Harrigan, James, 2003. "Handbook of International Trade," Staff General Research Papers 11375, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Andrew Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter Schott, 2009. "Multi-Product Firms and Trade Liberalization," Working Papers 09-21, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  8. repec:oup:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:2:p:646-677 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2004. "Comparative Advantage and Heterogeneous Firms," CEP Discussion Papers dp0643, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  10. Volker Nocke & Stephen Yeaple, 2006. "Globalization and Endogenous Firm Scope," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-015, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  11. Sanghamitra Das & Mark J. Roberts & James R. Tybout, 2001. "Market entry costs, producer heterogeneity and export dynamics," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 03-10, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
  12. Nina Pavcnik, 2002. "Trade Liberalization, Exit, and Productivity Improvements: Evidence from Chilean Plants," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 69(1), pages 245-276.
  13. Roberts, Mark J & Tybout, James R, 1997. "The Decision to Export in Colombia: An Empirical Model of Entry with Sunk Costs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(4), pages 545-64, September.
  14. Bernard, Andrew B. & Bradford Jensen, J., 1999. "Exceptional exporter performance: cause, effect, or both?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 1-25, February.
  15. Van Biesebroeck, Johannes, 2005. "Exporting raises productivity in sub-Saharan African manufacturing firms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 373-391, December.
  16. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Daniel Trefler, 2006. "The Long and Short of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement," STICERD - Economics of Industry Papers 41, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  18. David Hummels & Peter J. Klenow, 2005. "The Variety and Quality of a Nation's Exports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 704-723, June.
  19. Bernard, Andrew B. & Jensen, J. Bradford & Schott, Peter K., 2006. "Trade costs, firms and productivity," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 917-937, July.
  20. David Hummels & Alexandre Skiba, 2002. "Shipping the Good Apples Out? An Empirical Confirmation of the Alchian-Allen Conjecture," NBER Working Papers 9023, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Andrew B. Bernard & Stephen J. Redding & Peter K. Schott, 2006. "Multi-Product Firms and Product Switching," NBER Working Papers 12293, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Elhanan Helpman & Marc Melitz & Yona Rubinstein, 2007. "Estimating Trade Flows: Trading Partners and Trading Volumes," NBER Working Papers 12927, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Russell Hillberry & David Hummels, 2005. "Trade Responses to Geographic Frictions: A Decomposition Using Micro-Data," NBER Working Papers 11339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Sofronis Clerides & Saul Lach & James Tybout, 1996. "Is "learning-by-exporting" important? Micro-dynamic evidence from Colombia, Mexico and Morocco," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  25. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:441-487 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Andrew B. Bernard & J. Bradford Jensen, 2006. "Firm Structure, Multinationals, and Manufacturing Plant Deaths," Working Paper Series WP06-7, Peterson Institute for International Economics.
  27. Krugman, Paul, 1980. "Scale Economies, Product Differentiation, and the Pattern of Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 950-59, December.
  28. Roberto Alvarez & Ricardo López, 2005. "Exporting and performance: evidence from Chilean plants," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 38(4), pages 1384-1400, November.
  29. Jonathan Eaton & Samuel Kortum, 2002. "Technology, Geography, and Trade," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(5), pages 1741-1779, September.
  30. repec:rus:hseeco:121669 is not listed on IDEAS
  31. Elhanan Helpman, 2006. "Trade, FDI, and the Organization of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(3), pages 589-630, September.
  32. repec:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:2:p:441-487 is not listed on IDEAS
  33. repec:oup:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:3:p:903-947 is not listed on IDEAS
  34. Caves, Douglas W & Christensen, Laurits R & Diewert, W Erwin, 1982. "The Economic Theory of Index Numbers and the Measurement of Input, Output, and Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1393-1414, November.
  35. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. Carsten Eckel & J. Peter Neary, 2006. "Multi-product firms and flexible manufacturing in the global economy," Working Papers 200608, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  37. 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.
  38. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:113:y:1998:i:3:p:903-947 is not listed on IDEAS
  39. Hallak, Juan Carlos, 2006. "Product quality and the direction of trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 238-265, January.
  40. repec:oup:restud:v:69:y:2002:i:1:p:245-76 is not listed on IDEAS
  41. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
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